Ranji Trophy: Kerala hands Tripura a seven-wicket defeat

Kerala, starting from 117 for no loss, gathered the remaining 66 runs in about one-and-a-half hours to reach the target of 183 for the loss of three wickets, handing Tripura a seven-wicket defeat on the final day of the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Barabati Stadium here on Friday. It secured six points, including a bonus, to take its tally to 22 points from eight matches.

Kerala Ranji team members after winning their first Ranji match of the season against Tripura at Cuttack on Friday.   -  Y.B. Sarangi

The role of professionals in the side was apparent as Kerala recorded its first win of the season in its eighth outing by handing Tripura a seven-wicket defeat on the fourth and final day of the Ranji Trophy Group C match at Barabati Stadium here on Friday.

Kerala, starting from 117 for no loss, gathered the remaining 66 runs in about one-and-a-half hours to reach to the target of 183 for the loss of three wickets. It secured six points, including a bonus, to take its tally to 22 points, improves its position and keeps alive its hope for a quarterfinal berth.

Overnight unbeaten openers Mohammed Azharuddeen, resuming from 80, and Bhavin Thakkar, beginning from 37, fell short of achieving their target narrowly. Azharuddeen (99) was caught at forward short-leg off left-arm spinner Gurinder Singh in the 13th over of the morning, while Thakkar (47) was captured at mid-on while trying to clear the infield in the next over of the same bowler.

Nevertheless, Kerala's first win underlined the importance of professionals for the team not only in terms of performance but also in the way they mentor the younger lot.

Thakkar, who has collected 456 runs including one century and two half-centuries, is the second highest run-getter for the team so far this season. Apart from his contribution with the bat, his guidance was immensely helpful for Azharuddeen. It taught the youngster how to handle tricky situations confidently.

Iqbal Abdullah, who took three crucial wickets at an important stage to provide important breakthroughs, showed how to build pressure on opposition batsmen and make a comeback. Plying the same trade, Akshay Chandran benefited from the situation to pick up four wickets without giving away too many runs.

Jalaj Saxena, who has served Kerala with bat and ball in earlier matches, may have been unlucky not to get a wicket on his return here but his probing spells, which created several chances, made things easier for other bowlers. He was bowled by Gurinder in this match.

“The professionals' experience is the biggest thing. They have all proved at the top level. At crucial stages, it is about raising their hands and performing. They did that in this game. Its not just them. There was contribution from everyone, that’s what gave us the win,” said Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan.