Ranji Trophy: Kerala has task cut out on final day after MP piles huge score

The match is likely to be decided on first-innings lead after Madhya Pradesh compiled 586 in its opening essay.

Kerala's P. Rahul remained unbeaten at the end of day's play.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

After Madhya Pradesh made a mountain of runs in the first innings, it surely was going to be a climb of Mount Everest for Kerala.

Sachin Baby’s men have begun promisingly though and gave themselves a chance on the final day on Sunday. When the stumps were drawn on the third day at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Ground (C), they were 198 for two, a long way off 586, the score they need to make to get the first-innings lead and thus clinch a place in the Ranji Trophy’s knock-out phase.

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So Kerala has to make 388 from the remaining 90 overs, scoring more than four-an-over right through the final day may not be easy at all.

If they find the runs hard to come by at such an asking rate, they have another option, though. They could bat with the run quotient in mind. Since both the teams are tied on points – 13 – that could come into play to break the tie if the Kerala first innings is not completed.

To improve its run quotient, Kerala will have to ensure that it loses very few wickets, but it could settle for smaller targets, something like 456 for five, even as batting out time. In other words, not losing wickets could be the key.

Kerala’s chase though suffered a setback when it lost its in-form opener Rohan Kunnummal after he added 129 for the first wicket with P. Rahul. He had come into this match having scored a record-breaking third hundred in as many innings, but he was trapped lbw by leg-spinner Mihir Hirwani for 75 (110b, 8x4); yet again he was playing some well-timed strokes and runs were flowing while was at the wicket.

Then Vathsal Govind was caught behind off seamer Anubhav Agarwal, but Rahul (82 not out, 178b, 13x4) and Baby ensured that there was no further damage.

Earlier, Madhya Pradesh declared its innings after batting with much more urgency than it did on the previous days. The declaration came right after opener Yash Dubey (289, 881m, 591b, 35x4, 2x6) became one of the six victims to off-spinner Jalaj Saxena.

The scores:

Madhya Pradesh – 1st Innings: Himanshu Mantri c Rahul b Jalaj 23, Yash Dubey lbw b Jalaj 289, Shubham Sharma c Vishnu b Sijomon 11, Rajat Patidar lbw b Jalaj 142, Aditya Shrivastava c sub (Midhun) b Basil 9, Akshat Raghuwanshi run out 50, Mihir Hirani b Jalaj 36, Kumar Kartikeya b Jalaj 10, Ishwar Pandey c Rahul b Jalaj 0, Kuldeep Sen (not out) 0; Extras (b-10,  lb-4, w-1): 15; Total (for nine wkts. decl. in 204. 3 overs): 585.

Fall of wickets: 1-62, 2-88, 3-365, 4-382, 5-466, 6-528, 7-566, 8-566, 9-585.

Kerala bowling: Nidheesh 31-5-116-0, Thampi 26-2-84-0, Basil 32-9-85-1, Jalaj 51.3-18-116-6, Sijomon 52-7-135-1, Baby 12-3-35-0.

Kerala – 1st Innings: P. Rahul (batting) 82, Rohan Kunnummal lbw b Hirwani 75, Vathsal Govind c Mantri b Anubhav 15, Sachin Baby (batting) 7; Extras (b-8, lb-10, nb-1) 19; Total (for two wkts. in 63 overs): 198.
Fall of wickets: 1-129, 2-182.

Madhya Pradesh bowling: Kartikeya 21-7-40-0, Ishwar 11-1-42-0, Anubhav 11-3-25-1, Mihir 9-1-36-1, Kuldeep 5-1-19-0, Shubham 6-1-18-0.

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