Ranji Trophy: Rishi Dhawan’s fiery knock puts Himachal in command

After taking a narrow first innings lead of 11 runs, Himachal Pradesh raked up 285 for eight off 52.1 overs and extended its overall lead to 296 runs at the end of the third day’s play.

Rishi Dhawan cracked an important half-century.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

The ball hardly swung for Kerala bowlers under the bright sun in the afternoon but Himachal Pradesh batsmen swung their bats around to score quick runs in its quest for a win in the Ranji Elite B Group match at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee stadium on Wednesday.

After taking a narrow first innings lead of 11 runs, Himachal raked up 285 for eight off 52.1 overs and extended its overall lead to 296 runs at the end of the third day’s play.

Rishi Dhawan once again played a counter-attacking innings of 85 and shared a rapid 106-run third wicket stand with Ankit Kalsi (64) to put Himachal in command.

As it Happened

The opening pair of Ankush Bains and captain Prasanth Chopra led the charge by adding 35 quick runs for the first wicket during which they set the template by treating Kerala medium pacers with disdain. After Bains’ dismissal Dhawan joined Chopra to put the attack to sword.

The introduction of Sijomon Joseph brought in quick rewards for Kerala as the left-arm spinner beat Chopra’s defensive prod to clean him up.

However, there was no respite for Kerala bowlers as Ankit Kalsi and Dhawan kept scoring at a fast pace. Dhawan struck lusty blows off medium pacers to race to his 50 off 47 balls while Kalsi complimented him with innovative strokeplay.

Sijomon, who extracted turn from the footmarks, ended the threatening stand when Kalsi missed a cut and was bowled for 64. Pankaj Jaswal, who was promoted, edged Sijomon to Azharuddeen as Kerala managed to control the run flow for a few overs.

READ: Ranji Trophy: Sasikanth's six-wicket haul floors Madhya Pradesh

Nikhil Gangta, Mayank Dagar and Amit Kumar perished in the search for quick runs but Dhawan continued to hurt Kerala bowlers and looked set for century until he played-on to a ball from Basil Thampi and was dismissed for 85.

Earlier, Kerala lost five wickets for 18 runs to concede the lead and advantage to Himachal Pradesh. Sanju Samson and P.Rahul completed their century stand and took the score to 268 for five when collapse set in.

Medium pacer Arpit Guleria triggered the collapse with a burst of fine swing bowling. Sanju, who got a reprieve early when Dhawan bowled him off a no ball when on 40, prodded at an out swinger and was caught in the slips.

Vinoop Manoharan’s miserable match ended when his tame shot landed in the hands of Mayank. Arpit cleaned up Nidheesh with a yorker to complete his five wicket haul.

Dhawan then took over and trapped Rahul leg before for 127. However, Basil Thampi’s lusty blows brought Kerala near to Himachal’s total but Dhawan ensured his side got the lead by having Sandeep Warrier leg before for three.

Brief scores

Himachal Pradesh 297 & 285/8 (Rishi Dhawan 85, A.R. Kalsi 64, Sijomon Joseph 4/51) vs Kerala 286 leads by 296 runs.

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