Ranji Trophy: Jalaj Saxena steers Kerala closer to victory

First innings centurion Jalaj Saxena picks seven wickets as Andhra finishes Day 3 at 102 for 8, just 28 runs ahead of Kerala.

Jalaj Saxena donned the role of a wrecker-in-chief with the ball on Wednesday.   -  Special Arrangement

Jalaj Saxena is admired by his peers and respected by enthusiasts of the game all across the State for the yeoman services rendered to Kerala cricket through the last three seasons.

The 31-year-old was once again on song at the St. Xavier’s stadium, Thumba, on Wednesday, as he brought about an amazing seven-wicket spell to match or even go one better than his century on Tuesday. With the genial all-rounder doing more than his bit, Andhra was in dire straits at stumps on the third day of the Ranji Trophy Elite Pool B match.

The visitors were never in the frame as Jalaj, through an unchanged spell of 19 overs, brought about their doom, reducing the side to 108 for eight in the second innings and just 28 runs ahead of Kerala.

Ranji Trophy, Day 3: As it Happened

Kerala batsmen didn't fare any better. Resuming at 228 for one, the host failed to make good of the advantageous position before being howled out for 328 – losing nine
wickets for the addition of just 100 runs in 40.2 overs.

There was absolutely no demon in the pitch, which, after being exposed to the hot sun, was considerably slower when compared to the last two days. And to an intelligent spinner with variety, this was enough as the ball often tended to come slower off the wicket to tease the rival batsmen.

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Debutant G. Manish, the Andhra left-arm spinner and his off-break partner, Shoaib Mohammed Khan, did use the conditions to cloud the minds of the Kerala batting line-up in the morning before Jalaj took control.

Faced with a deficit of 74 runs – the lead enjoyed by Kerala, — the Andhra batsmen crumbled to the guiles of Jalaj who was supported well by K.C. Akshay who bowled in tandem.

It was a virtual procession before young Ricky Bhui, braving a high fever, came in lower down the order and in the company of Ayyappa Bandaru saw to it that the play got extended to the last and final day.

For sure, it is not celebration time as yet for Kerala, but none can deny that it is firmly in the driver’s seat as of now.

Scorecard

Andhra - 1st innings: 254

Kerala - 1st innings: K.B. Arun Karthick lbw b Shoaib 56, Jalaj Saxenab Manish 133, Rohan Prem c Prashanth b Manish 47, Sanju V. Samson c Sumanth b Manish 0, Sachin Baby c Prashanth b Vijay Kumar 21, V. A. Jagadeesh c Siva Charan Singh b Ayyappa 20, Salman Nizar c Manish b Shoaib 14, Akshay Chandran c Ashwin b Karn 15, Basil Thampi c Ravi
Teja b Karn 3, K.C. Akshay lbw b Shoaib 2, Sandeep Warrier (not out) 0. Extras (nb-6, b-6, lb-5) 17. Total (all out, 119.2 overs) 328.

Fall of wickets: 1-139, 2-241, 3-241, 4-266, 5-290, 6-294, 7-314, 8-324, 9-328.

Andhra bowling: Ayyappa 16-2-55-1, Vijay Kumar 11-1-30-1, Manish 31-8-81-3, Karn 21-1-60-2, Shoaib 39.2-8-89-3, Ravi Teja 1-0-2-0.

Andhra - 2nd innings: Ashwin Hebbar c Salman b Jalaj 11, D.B. Prashanth Kumar lbw b Jalaj 10, D.B. Ravi Teja c Salman b Jalaj 17, B. Sumanth st. Sanju b Akshay 0, Karn Sharma c Thampi b Jalaj 2, Siva Charan Singh c Sanju b Jalaj 19, Shoaib Mohammed Khan c Karthick b Jalaj 4, Ricky Bhui (batting) 30, G. Manish c Salman b Jalaj 2, Ayyappa Bandaru (batting) 0. Extras (b-5, lb-2) 7. Total (for eight wickets, 46 overs) 102.

Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-26, 3-29, 4-34, 5-51, 6-61, 7-84, 8-90.

Kerala bowling: Warrier 5-2-7-0, Thampi 3-0-10-0, Jalaj 19-1-44-7, Akshay 15-1-30-1, Chandran 4-24-0.