Ranji Trophy: Jalaj puts Kerala on cusp of victory

Jalaj’s excellent spell (six for 39) bundled out Delhi for 139 in the first innings, putting Kerala in charge of the proceedings.

The golden arm of Jalaj Saxena put Kerala on the threshold of victory against Delhi at the end of a frenetic 18-wicket day.   -  special arrangement

The golden arm of Jalaj Saxena put Kerala on the threshold of victory against Delhi at the end of a frenetic 18-wicket day in the Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at the KCA-St. Xavier's College ground here on Saturday.

Jalaj at it again

Jalaj’s excellent spell (six for 39) bundled out Delhi for 139 in the first innings and Kerala captain Sachin Baby enforced the follow-on. Medium pacers Sandeep Warrier (three for 16) and Basil Thampi (two for 16) scythed through the batting line-up to reduce the visitor to 41 for five at stumps on the second day.

Jalaj's ankle injury on the opening day forced Kerala to tweak its batting line-up, which eventually proved to be a game changer.

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Delhi batsmen fell to his guile as he bowled unchanged in a marathon spell of 31 overs paying no heed to the pain on his left ankle which was heavily strapped.  He was disciplined and rarely bowled a loose ball, inducing mistakes from the batsmen.

Jalaj took over after the Kerala medium-pacers had reduced Delhi to four for two. Captain Dhruv Shorey (30) and Vaibhav Rawal (18) added 48 runs for the third wicket. However, Jalaj dismissed both batsmen to put Kerala on top.

Jonty Sidhu, who survived a chance on five, struck a few meaty blows off Vinoop and Sijomon and stitched together 39 runs with Anuj Rawat for the seventh wicket.

Losing wickets in a flurry

After being forced to follow on, Delhi changed its batting line-up and promoted Shivank Vashisth as opener. But Warrier struck off the first delivery and had Vashisth edging a catch to Jagadeesh at first slip. Both Warrier and Thampi were incisive as Delhi lost wickets in a hurry in the last hour.

Earlier in the morning, Kerala added 29 runs to its overnight total of 291 for seven before being dismissed for 320. Shivam Sharma finished with figures of six for 98.

At Trivandrum: Kerala 320 in 95.3 overs (Poonam Rahul 77, Vinoop Sheela Manoharan 77, Jalaj Saxena 68, Shivam Sharma six for 98) vs. Delhi 139 in 66.2 overs (Jonty Sidhu 41, Jalaj Saxena six for 39) & 41 for five in 13 overs.