Kerala batsmen pressed the self destruction button to hand the advantage to debutant Chhattisgarh at the end of the opening day’s play in the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Keenan Stadium here on Thursday.
Batting first after winning the toss on a slow surface, Kerala slumped from 137 for two to 173 for eight before a resourceful ninth-wicket stand of 21 by K. S.Monish (19 batting) and Sandeep Warrier (4 batting) denied any further success to Chhattisgarh bowlers. At stumps, Kerala was 194 for eight.
Had Kerala’s middle-order batsmen shown half the patience and application of its ninth-wicket pair, it would have ended the day on a much happier note. The Kerala batsmen paid the price for their impetuosity on a wicket where patience was the virtue, and none exemplified it better than Sanju Samson, who stroked a fluent 41 studded with six fours and a six. He was dismissed when he smashed a full toss straight back at the bowler Sumit Ruikar.
Kerala’s opening blues continued with V. A. Jagadeesh (9) failing again after he was bowled through the gate from an in-swinger from Pankaj Rao. However, Bhavin Thakkar (33) and Rohan Prem saw off the new ball and opened up against the spinners to add 44 runs for the second wicket before medium pacer Pratik Sinha induced an edge from Thakkar.
Sanju Samson arrived and tore into the rival attack, picking up his first 30 runs through boundaries (six fours and a six). The normally restraint Rohan, too, played a few forceful strokes as the third-wicket pair added a quick 69 runs off as many balls.
Ruikar managed to keep Sanju quiet for two overs and the batsman obliged by hitting a full toss straight at the bowler. Sachin Baby (0) left soon after, edging a catch to Ashutosh Singh at first slip and Jalaj Saxena (4) was needlessly run out as Kerala lost three quick wickets for just 12 runs.
Iqbal Abdullah played an ugly swipe against Ruikar and only managed an edge, which was snapped up by Ashutosh Singh at first slip. Rohan (62), who held the innings together, finally lost his patience and chased a wide ball to be caught behind off Pankaj Rao.
Nikhilesh’s attempt to clear the infield off Ruikar ended in a tame catch at mid on as Kerala slumped further. But Monish and Warrier added some useful runs for the ninth wicket and denied any further success to the Chhattisgarh bowlers.
Chhattisgarh coach Sulakshan Kulkari was delighted with the performance of his team.
“We came back well after taking some stick from the Kerala batsmen. After losing the toss we are happy to have taken eight wickets and restricted them to below 200 runs on the first day. Our bowlers Pankaj and Ruikar were excellent with their line and length,” said the coach.
Ruikar who picked up three wickets said he didn’t get any help from the pitch but was looking to hit right length and deceive the batsmen with his flight.
Kerala coach Balachandran said Jalaj Saxena’s needless run-out was the turning point as it saw the momentum shift to Chhattisgarh. Early morning rain had delayed the start of the match and play began only 40 minutes before lunch.
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