Ranji Trophy: Kerala defies Hyderabad on opening day

Three half-centuries lifted Kerala to 231 for 4 at stumps on day one of its group B match against Hyderabad.

Kerala batsman Jalaj Saxena plays a shot during his knock of 57.   -  Special Arrangement

Kerala defied Hyderabad on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at the St. Xavier’s Cricket Stadium, Thumba, on Thursday.

At stumps, after the final session was extended to make up for the visitors’ poor bowling rate, Kerala, helped by standout performances from the trio of Jalaj Saxena (57), Sanju Samson (53) and skipper Sachin Baby (57 not out), was 231 for four in 85 overs.

It had rained in the areas close to the ground on Wednesday night and the teams were welcomed by overcast conditions. Surprisingly, Hyderabad captain P. Akshath Reddy opted to field after winning the toss.

Read: Madhya Pradesh finishes Day 1 strongly after Patidar's ton

Sumanth injured

However, things did not work well for the two-time champion as first-choice wicketkeeper K. Sumanth was forced to leave the field after being hit on the shoulder by a Ravi Kiran delivery. The Kerala openers, K.B. Arun Karthick and Jalaj Saxena, remained cautious right through the first hour of play.

Gaining in confidence, Karthick and Saxena pushed the scoring rate to above three runs an over before Karthick (25) was snapped up by substitute ’keeper K.S.K. Chaitanya off Ravi Teja. Saxena, at the other end, was in complete control, standing up to pull C. V. Milind and whack him over mid-on in the same over.

However, Saxena went into a shell soon after Karthik’s exit. He was lucky to escape twice in the space of three deliveries in a RaviTeja over, both nicks grassed at slip. Saxena survived this phase to steer the side to 72 for one at lunch, in the company of RohanPrem.

After the break, the two left in quick succession, losing their head and wickets to left-arm spinner Mehdi Hasan. Prem took an unnecessary swipe against the spinner to gift wrap a return catch while Saxena, in a rush of blood, went for an ambitious drive over mid-wicket and was well taken by Saketh Sairam diving in front.

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The revival

The repair job was done by Sanju and Sachin. The former, who had patiently seen through the first 26 deliveries before scoring his first run, and Sachin, continuing his good form from the Vijay Hazare Trophy, was engaged in an invaluable 89-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Sanju, however, failed to control a cover drive and was caught by Sandeep off Saketh.

Sachin was quick to get to his half-century soon after. He had the company of V.A. Jagadeesh, making a comeback to the team after a one-year gap.

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The scores: 

Kerala — 1st innings: K.B. Arun Karthick c (sub) Chaitanya b Ravi Teja 25, Jalaj Saxena cSaketh b Mehdi 57, Rohan Prem c & b Mehdi 29, Sanju Samson c Sandeep b Saketh 53,Sachin Baby (batting) 57, V.A. Jagadeesh (batting) 3; Extras (nb-2, b-4, lb-1): 7; Total (for four wkts. in 85 overs): 231.

Fall of wickets: 1-59, 2-110, 3-123, 4-212.

Hyderabad bowling: Ravi Kiran: 14-5-21-0, Milind 14-3-48-0, Ravi Teja 15-2-47-1, Mehdi30-9-67-2; Saketh 10-1-37-1, Sandeep 2-0-6-0.