Ranji Trophy: Prem, Thakkar lay solid base for Kerala

An undefeated partnership of 98 for the second wicket between Bhavin Thakkar and Rohan Prem promised a bright Monday for Kerala, which will target the first innings lead to start with against Haryana in the Ranji Trophy Group C tie in Jaipur.

Bhavin Thakkar scored an unbeaten 56 off 176 balls.   -  V. Ganesan

Bhavin Thakkar’s blemishless unbeaten 56 off 176 balls laid the foundation for Kerala reaching 170 for one in response to Haryana’s first innings score of 303, on the second day of the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Sunday.

With debutant Vishnu Vinod smashing 58 off 70 balls with eight 4s and two sixes, Kerala had responded in a more positive fashion even as Thakkar kept one end wicket-proof. Skipper Rohan Prem joined Thakkar after Vinod was bowled by Harshal Patel, and helped himself to a fluent half-century.

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An undefeated partnership of 98 for the second wicket promised a bright Monday for Kerala, which will target the first innings lead to start with against the leader in the group. Haryana could have been in deeper trouble but for a 109-run partnership for the ninth wicket between Sanjay Pahal (54) and Rohit Sharma who was the last man out on 92, caught and bowled by Sandeep Warrier.

Medium pacer Sandeep Warrier bagged five wickets in the match, for the sixth time in his first-class career. He was outstanding with his probing line and persistence. It was Jalaj Saxena who got the breakthrough once again for Kerala in breaking the partnership, after Haryana had resumed at 227 for eight.

The conditions had improved dramatically as the life of the pitch had deteriorated, from the bowlers' point of view, under the smothered grass layer, The Kerala batsmen showed character to negotiate the bowling with determination and temparament backed by sound technique.

It was the first half-century of the season, in the fifth match, for the 34-year-old Bhavin Thakkar who played the spinners with commendable footwork as he hit five fours and a six. It was Vishnu Vinod who entertained with a cameo in which he drove Haryana skipper Mohit Sharma for four fours in an over and later swung spinner Yuzvendra Chahal for two sixes over the midwicket fence.

Haryana tried six bowlers in the 57 overs that it managed to squeeze in the afternoon, but except for Harshal Patel sending the middle stump on a cartwheel to dismiss Vishnu Vinod, the rest could not get sniffing distance of a wicket. It will be interesting to see how Haryana tackles the batsmen-friendly conditions on Monday.