Gurvinder stars in HP's win over Kerala

Gurvinder, who returned to Ranji Trophy after three years with a more classical action, also achieved his third five-wicket haul and 50 wickets as Himachal dramatically bundled out Kerala for just 115 in the second innings and overhauled the winning target of 103 runs losing four wickets.

Himachal Pradesh off-spinner Gurvinder Singh receiving the match ball from match referee S. Sharath.   -  Special arrangement

With his clean remodelled action, off-spinner Gurvinder celebrated his return to first-class cricket by claiming five wickets and paving the way for Himachal Pradesh to record a six-wicket victory over Kerala on the third day of the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.

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Gurvinder, who returned to Ranji Trophy after three years with a more classical action, also achieved his third five-wicket haul and 50 wickets as Himachal dramatically bundled out Kerala for just 115 in the second innings and overhauled the winning target of 103 runs losing four wickets.

Earlier, Himachal, beginning from its overnight aggregate of 198 for eight, benefitted from the fine showing of its tail-enders, including Gurvinder’s 30-runs 10th wicket stand with an amazingly responsible Sumeet Verma (50 not out), to surpass Kerala’s first innings total of 248 and take a slender 13-run lead.

The day belonged to 33-year-old Gurvinder, who had bowled parsimoniously in the first innings to take two wickets. Bowling long spells and often in tandem with young Mayank Dagar on an extremely slow and low pitch, Gurvinder remained faithful to the tried and tested method of giving the ball air, keeping it on the stumps and waiting for the batsmen to make mistakes.

Kerala batters’ poor shot selection assisted Gurvinder.

After Rishi Dhawan removed Jalaj Saxena early, Gurvinder had Bhavin Thakkar lbw. He dismissed Kerala captain Rohan Prem, who attempted a drive and was caught at the first slip, in his next over.

At the other end, Dagar also bowled with a big heart and followed an equally disciplined approach to bag two wickets in quick interval. Sanju Samson stepped out to be bowled and Sachin Baby was stuck on his back foot as the ball remained low and crashed on to his stumps.

More trouble was in store for Kerala as V. A. Jagadeesh was bowled by Gurvinder, who switched briefly to bowl round the wicket. Monish was caught at silly point and Basil Thampi was trapped in front to give Gurvinder a reason to celebrate.

“Since I bowled with my new action, this was like a debut match for me. Now I am able to bowl longer spells without getting tired,” said Gurvinder.

Kerala, which took lunch at 22 for one, collapsed extraordinarily to be all out just before the tea break.