Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Defiant Salman Nizar rescues Kerala against Punjab

Salman Nizar shepherd the lower order to lift Kerala from a precarious 89 for six to 227 all out. Punjab in reply was 44 for two at stumps.

Salman Nizar scored an important 91 and lifted Kerala from a precarious position. (File Photo)   -  S. Mahinsha

A familiar script rolled out in the first half of the Kerala innings before a defiant unbeaten 91 by Salman Nizar saved the blushes for the host on the first day of the Ranji Trophy Elite Group A match against Punjab at the KCA-St.Xavier's College ground here on Saturday.

Salman shepherd the lower order to lift Kerala from a precarious 89 for six to 227 all out. Punjab in reply was 44 for two at stumps.

The left-hander's knock was the base on which the Kerala innings was built. He shared two crucial stands - a 79-run seventh-wicket stand with Akshay Chandran (28) and 39-run last wicket stand with M.D.Nidheesh (0) - which carried Kerala to a respectable total.

Sachin Baby luck with toss continued and he chose to bat again. However, within half-an-hour the captain was in the middle and was all at sea against Punjab's opening bowlers.

Mohammed Azharuddeen opened with a stylish boundary off Siddharth Kaul but at the other end Baltej Singh snared Jalaj Saxena.

Azharuddeen nicked one behind off Kaul and Rohan Prem edged Baltej to the slips to leave Kerala struggling at 11 for three.

Robin Uthappa counter-attacked and struck some pleasing shots against the medium pacers. He added 58 runs with his tentative captain.

Kaul, who was used in short spells, got a delivery to climb awkwardly and the ball lobbed off Robin's glove -as the batsman tried to pull it - and Rohan Marwaha took an overhead catch at first slip.

Baby's misery ended when he pushed forward half-heartedly was bowled through the gate by Kaul. Vishnu Vinod was unconvincing during his stay and was early on to his shot off a delivery from Baltej which stopped on him as Kerala slid to 89 for six.

Salman then began the repair with Akshay Chandran. Both batsmen showed remarkable resilience in countering the threat from Punjab spinners.

Gurkeerat Mann bowled a teasing line and made the ball to bounce while left arm spinner Vinay Choudhary also extracted turn. Salman punished the loose deliveries as the partnership grew in confidence. However, the partnership was broken when Akshay Chandran (28) was adjudged caught at slips off a delivery from Vinay which bounced and spun.

Both Sijomon Joseph (10) and Basil Thampi (2) fell cheaply but Salman found an ideal ally in Nidheesh. Salman farmed the strike and attacked the spinners to add useful runs for the last wicket.

Nidheesh rattled Punjab early with two quick wickets. But Gurkeerat Mann and night watchman Mayank Markande negotiated the Kerala attack without much fuss.

The scores

Kerala 1st Innings: Mohd Azharuddeen c Malhotra b Kaul 8, Jalaj Saxena c Anmolpreet b Baltej 0, Rohan Prem c Malhotra b Baltej 2, Sachin Baby b Kaul 9, Robin Utthappa c Marwaha b Kaul 48, Vishnu Vinod c & b Baltej 20, Salman Nizar not out 91, Akshay Chandran c Marwaha b Vinay 28, SIjomon Joseph c Anmolpreet b Mann 10, Basil Thampi b Vinay 2, M. D. Nidheesh c Anmolpreet b Vinay 0.

Extras (nb-3, b-4, lb-2): 9; Total (all out in 75.2 overs) 227

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-11, 3-11, 4-69, 5-72, 6-89, 7-168, 8-185, 9-188.

Punjab Bowling

Kaul 17-2-47-3; Baltej 11-1-33-3, Sanvir 6-1-15-0, Markande 11-1-46-0, Mann 18-2-43-1, Vinay 12.2-2-37-3.

Punjab 1st Innings

Rohan Marwaha b Nidheesh 16, Sanvir Singh c Robin b Nidheesh 1, Gurkeerat Mann batting 16, Mayank Markande batting 12.

Extras (nb-1): 1

Total (for two wkts in 12 overs) 46

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-18.

Kerala Bowling

Nidheesh 5-1-15-2, Thampi 3-0-22-0, Jalaj 2-1-1-0, Sijom

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