Ranji Trophy: Kerala rides on Vinoop's brilliance to enter quarters

Vinoop Manoharan made a brilliant 96 and skipper Sachin Baby contributed handsomely as Kerala defeated Himachal Pradesh to enter the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy.

Kerala skipper Sachin Baby (l) and Vinoop Manoharan contributed significantly and helped Kerala enter quarterfinals.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Himachal Pradesh threw up a tough challenge but Kerala’s opening gambit in the form of Vinoop Manoharan checkmated the host as the visitor recorded a memorable five-wicket win to advance into the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee stadium on Thursday.

At the team meeting coach Dav Whatmore suggested Vinoop’s name as opener and he was also given the license to attack.

Vinoop feasted on the wayward Himachal Pradesh attack and his strokeful innings of 96 saw Kerala register an emphatic win. The win looked highly unlikely in the morning when Himachal declared at its overnight total of 285 for eight.

As it Happened

In the morning, the new opening pair of Rahul and Vinoop played positively cashing in on the loose deliveries on offer to add 35 runs.

After losing his partner, Vinoop found an ideal ally in Sijomon Joseph and the duo added 73 runs for the second wicket with Vinoop scoring the majority of the runs.

Vinoop unsettled the bowlers’ rhythm by stepping out to carve the ball over square leg and pulled imperiously over mid-wicket when the bowlers dropped it short. 

The wayward Himachal bowling acted as cannon fodder to Vinoop’s aggression as runs came pretty fast in the opening session.

Vinoop also had a slice of luck when skipper Prasanth Chopra dropped him in the slips when the batsman was on 54 off Arpit.

That was the only blemish in Vinoop’s innings until he lost his balance while playing back to a delivery from Mayank Dagar and was stumped by Bains. 

Prasanth Chopra then dismissed Mohammed Azharuddeen for a duck as Himachal tasted quick success in the second session.

However, skipper Sachin Baby, who made a timely return to form by playing a counter-attacking innings of 92, blunted the threat of Himachal spinners who had kept the run-rate down with their niggardly spell and forced the breakthroughs.

Sachin shared two big stands – 101 for the third wicket with Vinoop and 88 runs for the fifth wicket with Sanju Samson – that laid foundation. 

The fifth wicket stand between Sachin and Samson was dominating and never allowed the Himachal bowlers to settle down.

Sanju, who after a hesitant start, found his touch to play a range of strokes. Sanju lofted Gurvinder Singh for two successive sixes to wrest control.

The runs came freely after Tea but Sachin threw away his wicket when victory was in sight. However, that didn't stop Kerala from entering the last eight.

Brief scores

Himachal Pradesh 297 & 285/8 dec (Rishi Dhawan 85, A.R. Kalsi 64, P.S. Chopra 41, Sijmon Joseph 4/51, Basil Thampi 2/63) vs Kerala 286 & 299/5 (Vinoop Manoharan 96, Sachin Baby 92, G.K. Singh 2/58)

Result: Kerala won by 5 wickets

Points: Kerala 6 Himachal 0  

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