Ranji Trophy: Sachin, Jalaj come to Kerala’s rescue again

Sachin Baby's unbeaten knock of 112 runs and a big fourth-wicket partnership with Jalaj Saxena, helped Kerala close in on Services’ first innings score in the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Friday.

Sachin Baby after scoring a hundred said that he was also determined to get a hundred, after failing to convert all those fifties.   -  K. Pichumani

Sachin Baby could not have timed his first hundred of the season better. His unbeaten knock of 112 runs and a big fourth-wicket partnership with Jalaj Saxena, helped Kerala close in on Services’ first innings score in the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Friday. The team reached 271 for five at stumps on the third day, 51 runs behind.

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With Sachin still there and a fair amount of batting still to come, Kerala could very well take the first-innings points in a match that is heading towards a draw. But, it had to survive some anxious moments early in the day, when it lost quick wickets after resuming at the overnight score of 31 for one.

Captain Rohan Prem was the first to go, after giving a return catch to medium-pacer Diwesh Pathania in the third over of the morning session. Four overs later, Salman Nizar was snapped up behind the stumps off the same bowler.

Kerala at that stage was 38 for three. In walked Sachin, who had come to this match after scoring five fifties. He tried to steady the ship in the company of opener Bhavin Thakkar.

But, when the fourth wicket partnership was worth 36, Thakkar was bowled by seamer Irfan Khan. Thus, the first full morning session of the match belonged totally to Services.

Kerala, however, struck back, after Jalaj joined Sachin. They added 187 for the fifth wicket, before Jalaj was out for 84. It was the second major partnership featuring the duo this season; they had performed a similar rescue act against Hyderabad in Bhubaneswar, putting on 147 for the fifth wicket.

“I enjoy batting in the company of Jalaj, who is such an experienced player,” Sachin told Sportstar. “It was a particularly gritty effort from him, as he was batting with a fractured index finger.”

He said he was also determined to get a hundred, after failing to convert all those fifties. “I wanted to ensure that I didn’t lose my wicket as the team was badly placed,” he said. “Batting certainly wasn’t easy today, so I am pleased that I could make a hundred.”