For the second day in a row, Anshul Gupta frustrated the Kerala bowlers.
After resuming on his overnight score of 52 not out, the Services skipper completed a fine hundred to help his team score a respectable first innings total of 322 in the Group C Ranji Trophy match at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Thursday. The opener's resolute batting dashed Kerala’s hopes of dismissing Services cheaply in a match it has to win if it has to entertain even the faintest of chances of making it to the quarterfinal stage.
By the time Anshul was eventually dismissed (105, 222b, 13x4), Services had gone past 250. It was his sixth-wicket stand of 119 with Rahul Singh that prevented Kerala from taking the upper hand, after Services began the second day at 103 for four.
Once again, there was a late start to the day’s proceedings due to fog. Kerala got an early success with debutant Athif Bin Ashraf claiming his fourth wicket.
He had Shamsher Yadav lbw. At that vulnerable stage for Services – 108 for five – in walked the in-form Rahul and he chose to counter-attack. He made 71 off just 90 balls (9x4).
It was the Rahul's sixth fifty in his maiden season. He has also scored two hundreds. The 21-year-old left-hander, who played junior cricket for Hyderabad, is the third-highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy at the moment, with 874 runs, scored at an average of 72.83.
“It was fine batting by Rahul and Anshul, though our bowlers bowled well,” Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan told Sportstar . “It was good to see Athif coming up with a good show on his debut. He has a long way to go yet, but he is only 19 and looks quite promising.”
Tinu said Kerala would now try to take a substantial first-innings lead and then to put pressure on Services in its second innings. “I think there are still chances of a decisive result in this match,” he said.
But, the weather could very well have a say on the result. The stumps were drawn early on the second day too, with Kerala on 31 for one.
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