In making his sixth championship century, skipper Sachin Baby guided Kerala to a massive first innings total of 525 for nine declared on the second day of its Ranji Trophy Elite Group A and B match at the St. Xavier’s Stadium, Thumba, on Tuesday.
With two days remaining, Kerala further strengthened its grip reducing Delhi to 23 for two at close.
The day belonged entirely to Kerala captain Baby as he converted his overnight 36 (in the team total of 276 for three) into a huge century with a superb display of batsmanship and quiet determination.
The start of the day was in no way promising for Kerala as Vishnu Vinod and Mohammed Azharuddeen fell rather cheaply, leaving Kerala on 310 for five after nine overs. But, Baby and Salman Nizar combined for a fine 156-run partnership, the latter especially keeping the strike rotating and coming up with a stroke-filled 77 (144b, 9x4, 2x6).
The ‘superstitious’ Baby, in an apparent endeavour to keep his focus, asked the scorer to blank out his individual contribution from the scoreboard after he had reached 75. The captain obviously did not want individual milestones to distract him from his focus on the team’s cause. He appreciably cut down on strokes, waiting for chances to score, leaving the rival bowlers in absolute frustration.
Lunch was taken at 410 for five with Baby having duly completed his century off 194 balls. Finally he made his exit after a masterly 155 (274b, 13x4). The declaration came almost 40 minutes after tea, leaving Delhi to play out a possible 14 overs.
But, as it turned out, neither Anuj Rawat nor Kunal Chandela was able to rise to the occasion, being cleaned up by Sandeep Warrier and Jalaj Saxena.
A huge task remains for the rest of the Delhi batsmen to avoid an abject surrender, staring at an arrears of 502 runs.
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