Ranji Trophy: Kerala survives Goa scare

Goa came close to inflicting a shock defeat to Kerala on the fourth day of the Group C Ranji Trophy tie at the Brabourne Stadium. The match ended in a draw, with Kerala taking three points owing to a first-innings lead.

Sagun Kamat played an attacking knock of 151 to give Goa a glimpse of victory.   -  K. Ramesh Babu

Goa, clearly the second-best team in the last three days, gave a major scare to Kerala before the four-day Group C Ranji Trophy match between the two sides ended in a draw at the Brabourne stadium here on Wednesday.

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Having been set a target of 325 for an outright win by Kerala, which declared at 268 for eight after an hour and 34 minutes on the final day, Goa came close to winning and was left to score 46 runs off the last five overs before bad light brought about an anti-climax.

Goa’s fightback was orchestrated by its skipper Sagun Kamat, who scored a scintillating 151 off 176 deliveries and was engaged with a 127-run partnership with Snehal Kauthankar for the third wicket. This was after he put on 111 runs alongside Swapnil Asnodkar for the second wicket following the early exit of Sumiran Amonkar.

The 33-year-old left-hand batsman was all class as he ensured the turnaround, negotiating the Kerala bowling with disdain, carting them to all corners of the ground as he completed his eighth century in 74 matches.

Asnodkar and Kaunthankar lend excellent support to their captain, rotating the strike quite admirably, which also meant that the Kerala bowlers were forced to adjust themselves time and again.

Jitters

Sloppy fielding by Kerala’s fielders also made it easy for Kamat and his colleagues to strike it rich. Goa did slow down after Kamat and Kauthankar made their exit when the scores were at 248 and 257 respectively, after the duo tried to press the accelerator too hard in their quest to help their side to a second consecutive win.

Bandekar, the hero of the morning with his five-wicket haul in Kerala’s second innings, proved ominous as the match looked set for a tantalising end. The entire Kerala camp was in jitters at this stage with substitutes running in and out with messages from the management.

This was before umpires Ullas Gandhe and Abhijit Deshmukh suspended play at 4.56 p.m. and broke the stumps eight minutes later, much to the relief of the side.

Kerala - for having gained the first innings lead - gained three points from the encounter to take its tally to 15 points from six matches, while Goa took a point for a total of 11 points from the same number of matches.