For a while it resembled a T20 match when Kerala openers P. Rahul (66 not out) and Rohan Kunnummal (40) plundered sixes and fours at will against the hapless Chhattisgarh spinners.
Chasing 126 for a win on the final day, the overtly aggressive Kerala openers sealed the contest in the first hour after adding 81 runs off 63 balls.
The host, after a slight blip, romped home by seven wickets to beat Chhattisgarh and registered its second win in the Ranji Trophy at the KCA-St.Xavier’s Cricket ground in Thumba on Friday.
The openers started in contrasting styles, with Rahul taking on the spinners with a flurry of boundaries while Rohan played the second fiddle.
But soon, Rohan found the timing which had deserted him in the first innings and played freely. However, the batter threw his wicket away after hitting left-arm spinner Ajay Mandal for two successive sixes. After seeing Rohan step out for the third time, Ajay dropped the delivery short and had him stumped by wicketkeeper Hussain.
Chhattisgarh enjoyed rare moments of success in the morning when Sumit Ruikar (1) had Sachin Baby edging a catch to Khare at short leg and off the very next ball the off-spinner dropped a return catch offered by Akshay Chandran.
Rahul duly completed his half-century even as Akshay Chandran (10) fell when Kerala was two runs away from victory. Rahul swept Ajay for a couple to complete the seven-wicket win.
Kerala coach Tinu Yohanan was pleased with the win and praised the boys for showing character on a good wicket. “It is a new beginning for us and I am happy with the way the boys fought back in the match. Looking back, taking seven wickets in the first session on the first day made a huge difference. I think considering their inexperience, medium pacers F.Fanoos and N.P.Basil bowled well. Jalaj Saxena was outstanding and Vaisakh Chandran also bowled well. We will definitely miss Sanju for the next match. He has been a huge influence as captain and as a batter. But it is up to the boys to grab their chances and perform,’‘ he said.