Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Jalaj takes seven, spins Kerala to victory against Punjab

Jalaj Saxena made optimum use of a deteriorating surface to bag seven wickets for 51 runs and enabled Kerala to secure its first of the season.

Wrecker-in-chief: Jalaj Saxena exploited the conditions to send the Punjab batsmen to their doom.   -  Special Arrangement

Kerala finally tasted a win to put its faltering campaign in the Ranji Trophy on the right track. The 21-run win came in a humdinger of a contest against Punjab at the KCA-St. Xavier's College ground on Monday.

Chasing a modest target of 146, Punjab was bundled out for 124. Bowling unchanged Jalaj Saxena made optimum use of a deteriorating surface to bag seven wickets for 51 runs off 23.1 overs and enabled Kerala to secure its first of the season.

The uneven bounce and turn kept the batsmen guessing and Punjab quickly slid to 89 for eight. But an enterprising 33-run ninth-wicket stand between Siddharth Kaul (22) and Mayank Markande (23) frustrated the hosts and gave a glimmer of hope for the visitors. 

Luckily for Kerala, the Tea break came at the right time and when play resumed, M.D.Nidheesh struck off the third ball.

Ranji Trophy 2019-20 | As it Happened

Siddharth Kaul, who followed his five-wicket haul with an aggressive knock, poked at an outswinger and was caught by wicketkeeper Azharuddeen. Then Jalaj wrapped up the innings when Markande got a faint edge to a spinning delivery which was snapped up by Sachin Baby at backward short leg.

Punjab started its chase on the wrong note when it lost a wicket off the second ball of the innings. Rohan Marwaha's attempted sweep off Jalaj Saxena ended at the hands of Azharuddeen.

Sanbir opened with a flurry of boundaries but  Sijomon Joseph yorked him in his first over to keep up the pressure. Skipper Mandeep Singh (10) swept Jalaj straight to Nidheesh at midwicket to trigger another round of collapse.

Jalaj dismissed Anmolpreet Singh for a golden duck and in the next over Abhishek Sharma (0) played an ugly hoick against Sijomon and was stumped. Punjab slipped from 38 for two to 40 for five in space of an over.

However, Gurkeerat Maan (18), who curbed his aggressive game, added 28 runs for the sixth wicket with Anumol Malhortra (14). But Jalaj trapped both Gurkeerat Maan and Anmol Malhotra in front with deliveries that kept low. Then came the ninth wicket stand that nearly brought victory for Punjab.

The morning session belonged to Siddarth Kaul. The medium-pacer bowled a hostile spell to prise out the remaining five Kerala batsmen in just half-an-hour. Azharuddeen started aggressively by striking Kaul for two boundaries and then hit a huge six off Gurkeerat Maan.

However, Kaul disturbed the timber with an inswinger to end Azhar's aggressive innings. Kaul then cleaned up Jalaj Saxena and Sijomon with nipping deliveries that kept low. Salman Nizar (28 not out) struck a few lusty blows but he ran out of partners as Kaul returned to dismiss Nidheesh and Basil Thampi off successive deliveries to end the innings.

The scores:

Kerala 1st Innings: 227

Punjab 1st Innings: 218

Kerala 2nd Innings:

Robin Uthappa C Anmolpreet b Vinay 0, Rohan Prem c Kaul b Maan 17, Akshay Chandran b Gurkeerat 31, Sachin Baby lbw Gurkeerat 10, Vishnu Vinod c Lumba (sub) b Gurkeerat 8, Mohd. Azharuddeen b Kaul 27, Salman Nizar not out 28, Jalaj Saxena b Kaul  4, Sijomon Joseph b Kaul  0, M.D.Nidheesh c Sharma b Kaul 4, Basil Thampi b Kaul 0.

Extras (b-4, lb-3):7, Total (in 39.5 overs): 136

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-55, 3-55, 4-73, 5-74, 6-108, 7-116, 8-116, 9-136

Punjab bowling

Vinay 11-1-40-1, Gurkeerat 17-0-45-4, Kaul 7.5-0-39-5 Baltej 4-2-5-0.

Punjab 2nd Innings

Rohan Marwaha c Azharuddeen b Jalaj 0, Sanbir Singh b Sijomon 18, Gurkeerat Maan lbw Jalaj 18, Mandeep Singh c Nidheesh b Jalaj 10, Anmolpreet Singh c Baby b Jalaj 0, Abhishek Sharma st Azharuddeen b Sijomon 0, Anumol Malhotra lbw Jalaj 14, Mayank Markande c Baby b Jalaj 23, Vinay Choudhary lbw Jalaj 10, Siddharth Kaul c Azharuddeen b Nidheesh 22, Baltej Singh not out 0.

Extras (b-4, 1b-5): 9, Total (in 46.1 overs) 124

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-20, 3-38, 4-39, 5-40, 6-68, 7-73, 8-89, 9-122

Kerala Bowling

Jalaj 23.1- 51-7, M.D.Nidheesh 5-0-18-1, Sijomon 15-2-37-2, Basil Thampi 3-0-9-0.