Ranji Trophy: Sahil Gupta’s century denies Kerala

A determined unbeaten maiden century (123 not out) by opener Sahil Gupta denied Kerala a win against Chhattisgarh in the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Keenan stadium here on Sunday

Sahil Gupta scored an unbeaten 123.   -  Special Arrangement

A determined unbeaten maiden century (123 not out) by opener Sahil Gupta denied Kerala a win against Chhattisgarh in the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Keenan stadium here on Sunday

Sahil Gupta (334 balls, 12 x4) showed remarkable concentration and maturity during his innings and thwarted Kerala which was eyeing its first win of the season. Instead Kerala had to be satisfied with three points and now has nine points from four matches. Chhattisgarh has 10 points from four matches.

Sahil figured in a crucial 88-run third wicket stand with Ashutosh Singh which shut out the chances of Kerala. Though Jalaj Saxena took two quick wickets in the last session, Sahil and Ruikar held on for a morale boosting draw for the Ranji debutants.

Needing a further 313 for a win on the final day, Chhattisgarh, overnight 15 for no loss, was never in the hunt after losing wickets early in the first session. Sahil Gupta was unperturbed as wickets fell around him and he found a good ally in Ashutosh Singh who was also willing to graft. The duo added 88 runs for the fourth wicket. More importantly the fourth wicket stand consumed nearly 40 overs and with it time. Captain Rohan Prem rung in changes and tried different field settings but none could disturb the concentration of Sahil and Ashutosh. Chhattisgarh did not lose any wicket in the post lunch session and added just 58 runs off 30 overs.

The early strike from Sandeep Warrier, who had Rishab Tiwari caught at point by Thakkar, pushed Chattsigarh on to the backfoot. The second wicket pair of Gupta and Khare resisted for a while. But Iqbal Abdullah struck in quick succession dismissing Khare and captain.Abhimanyu Chanuhan, two of Chattisgarh’s best batsmen, in space of two overs to give Kerala a glimmer of a hope.

Abdullah tempted Khare (20) to play his favourite cut shot and had him caught at backward by Thakkar. Chauhan’s drive ricocheted off Robert Fernandez’s leg, who was fielding at silly point, and was snapped up by at cover by Sachin Baby. But Ashutosh joined Sahil to deny Kerala any success till he under edged Monish and was declared caught behind. Sahil and wicket keeper Manoj Singh added another 47 runs for the fifth wicket. Kerala’s again sensed victory when Jalaj struck twice but Sahil and Ruikar played out the mandatory overs quite comfortably.

Kerala captain Rohan Prem was a tad disappointed but complimented Sahil for his great knock."`Everything worked for us in the morning session. But we couldn’t get the breakthrough we wanted as Sahil and Ashutosh batted beautifully. Disappointed for not being able to win but nevertheless we are happy with the first innings lead,’’ he said.

"I played the ball on merit. Batting was not easy and Kerala bowled well. I played my shots when I got chance. The fourth wicket stand with Ashutosh was crucial. I started batting freely after tea. It was a good knock under pressure, " said Sahil.