Ranji Trophy: Rahul’s maiden century leads Kerala’s fightback

The stocky Rahul stood tall among ruins and rode his luck to score his maiden Ranji Trophy ton on the second day of the Ranji Trophy match against Himachal Pradesh.

Kerala batsman Ponnam Rahul celebrates his century against Himachal Pradesh.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Kerala’s batting this season has been marked by odd knocks of brilliance from its batsmen and on the second day of the Ranji Trophy Group B elite match against Himachal Pradesh it was turn of opener P. Rahul to carve out a century and rescue his side from doldrums.

Round 9, Day 2: As it happened

The stocky Rahul stood tall among ruins and rode his luck to score his maiden Ranji Trophy ton and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Dropped in the slips even before he had opened his account, Rahul made Himachal pay for the lapse and his well paced century brought Kerala back in contention.
Kerala, in reply to Himachal Pradesh’s first innings score of 297, was 219 for five at stumps. Rahul also shared a crucial 73-run unbroken sixth wicket stand with Sanju Samson who made a patient unbeaten knock of 32.

The overcast conditions encouraged swing and Himachal medium pacers made the ball dart around. But they didn’t get the support from the fielders as four catches were dropped.

Kerala’s opening woes continued as Jagadeesh was cleaned up by Rishi Dhawan for five. Kerala tweaked the batting order by promoting Sijomon but he survived two dropped chances and failed to make it count by edging left arm spinner Dagar to slips for 16.

Azharuddeen continued from where he left off in Mohali and played some pleasing forcing shots off the medium pacers and carted G.K. Singh for a huge six over long on to race to 40. However, Azhar’s rapid innings came to an end when Jaswal had him caught behind by Bains.

Sachin Baby, who was dropped on one, was all at sea against the medium pacers but Rahul took the mantle of scoring and added 46 runs for the fourth wicket along with his captain.

Arpit Guleria’s probing spell after tea saw Kerala lose two quick wickets. Sachin Baby’s misery ended when he edged Arpit to Chopra in the slips and the medium pacer trapped Vishnu Vinod cheaply to have Kerala struggling at 146 for five.

DAY 1 REPORT

The runs came in a trickle as Sanju, who eschewed the big shots early in his innings, and Rahul patiently repaired the innings. Sanju got into his stride with a six off G.K. Singh and he played with more freedom against part time spinners who were pressed into service to increase the slow over rate.

Earlier in the morning, the eighth wicket pair of Kalsi and Jaswal added 56 runs as both Basil and Sandeep were wayward. However, Nidheesh came back to scalp Ankit Kalsi, who had completed his century, for his first five wicket haul of the season and had his sixth when. Jaswal top-edged a catch to Azharuddeen.

Brief scores

Himachal Pradesh Ist Innings: 297 all-out (A.R.Kalsi 101, Rishi Dhawan 58; M.D.Nidheesh 24-4-88-6)

Kerala Ist Innings: 219 for five (P.Rahul 103 not out, Mohammed Azharuddeeen 40; Arpit Guleria 15-4-29-2)

 

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