Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Jalaj guides Kerala to a position of strength

Jalaj Saxena was confidence personified right through his innings spanning 217 deliveries as he helped himself to his 13th century in the championship.

Jalaj Saxena celebrates after reaching the three figure mark.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Jalaj Saxena’s love affair with the track at the St. Xavier’s stadium in Thumba continued on Tuesday as the Kerala opener with a fine unbeaten century and two huge partnerships guided his side to a position of strength against Andhra in the Ranji Trophy Elite Pool B match.

The 31-year-old, hailing from Indore, was confidence personified right through his innings spanning 217 deliveries as he helped himself to his 13th century in the championship.

Jalaj also made up for his failure to convert a stroke-filled half-century to a big innings against Hyderabad earlier this month and toothless bowling through Monday – the opening day of this four-day encounter.

At stumps on the second day, benefiting from the polished essay of Jalaj, Kerala ended up with a score of 227 for one, replying to Andhra’s first innings total of 254.

The visiting side, resuming at the overnight total of 225 for eight, managed to stay alive only for around 50 minutes before being bowled out for 254, within five overs after Sachin Baby claimed the second new ball.

K.B. Arun Karthik sticking together with Jalaj in brilliant fashion ensured that the home side did not face with any hiccups through the initial stages of its innings, even as the latter went on hammer and tongs against the rival bowling.

The duo laid an excellent platform for the home side, being together through nearly 38 overs before Karthik fell leg before to Shoaib for a well-made 56 off 125 balls. His knock consisted of eight boundaries.

As the two made progress against the listless rival bowling, Kerala was consistently able to manage a run-rate of well above 3.70 runs per over.

However, things changed drastically as one-drop Rohan Prem, for a second consecutive match, remained defensive and dour.

Yet, the southpaw was successful in stitching together an unbeaten partnership of 88 runs with Jalaj, who, in between got to the magical three-figure mark in style.

Rohan literally to crawled to 34 off 132 balls, leaving Kerala trailing behind by 27 runs.