Ranji Trophy: Spinners script comeback for Kerala

After Kerala was bowled out for 207 early on Day Two, its spinners took wickets consistently to reduce Chhattisgarh to 179 for nine at stumps in the Group C tie in Jamshedpur.

Iqbal Abdulla took three for 26 in his 24 overs.   -  PTI (File Photo)

After taking his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket, left-arm spinner Sumit Ruikar would not have imagined he would have to bat on the same day.

>Scorecard

He had to walk out with the bat late in the day tasked to prevent Kerala from bowling Chhattisgarh out on Day Two of the Ranji Trophy Group C tie at the Kennan stadium.

Ruikar (21 batting) stands between Kerala and the precious first-innings lead after spinners brought Kerala back into contention. Chhattisgarh, in reply to Kerala’s first innings score of 207, was 179 for nine at stumps.

Left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdullah grabbed two wickets off successive balls in the first over after tea to turn things in favour of Kerala. Iqbal had Ashutosh Singh (20) caught behind and then he bowled Vishal Kushwah (0) through the gate as Chhattisgarh collapsed from a comfortable 143 for four to 157 for eight.

However, Ruikar started the rearguard effort by farming the strike to score crucial runs.

Disciplined effort

On a pitch where pace was variable, Kerala spinners bowled well as a unit. They kept up the pressure with their immaculate line and variations and made it harder for batsmen to score runs. In the end, Chhattisgarh’s batsmen succumbed to the pressure by playing a few unnecessary shots.

After a bizarre start to Chhattisgarh’s innings which featured Rishab Tiwari surviving three dropped chances (twice off successive balls from Bhavin Thakkar), left-arm spinner Karaparambil Monish made inroads, forcing a return catch from Tiwari.

Monish also picked up opener Sahil Gupta, who tried to slog his way out of trouble, before lunch. Jaleja Saxena chipped in with his off-spinners by dismissing the dangerous Amandeep Khare, the India under-19 star, before Abdullah, who was introduced late in the second session, turned it around for Kerala in the last session.

Earlier, Ruikar took five for 50 to wrap up Kerala’s innings 20 minutes after start of play. Kerala added 13 runs to the overnight total of 194 for eight to be dismissed for 207.

“There was some help from the pitch but I tried to keep the batsmen guessing with variations. We (spinners) kept up the pressure collectively and I am happy that we are back in contention,” said Abdullah.