It might not have been the best advertisement for Kerala cricket. Still, it was an easy ride for the host as it walloped Manipur by 75 runs in Group B of the Syed Musthaq Ali Trophy tournament at the Kariyavattom Sports Hub on Tuesday.
Played on a newly laid pitch only weeks ago and one which turned out to be on the slower side, the surface was not the right platform to force the pace and get runs in a hurry.
The home team batsmen were done in due to this after being put in. Going for runs on a quick note, they were thus left to rue, surrendering their wickets which as it were only helped Kerala to get to 149 for nine in the allotted 20 overs.
Only the left-handed Sachin Baby who top scored with 48 and skipper Robin Uthappa to a certain extent, chipping in with a useful 29, could contribute anything of note in the middle overs after Vishnu Vinod (25) once again pleased at the top of the order.
The Baby-Uthappa duo was engaged in a face saving 65-run partnership for the fourth wicket, but once they made their exit, the rest of the Kerala innings resembled a pack of cards crashing down.
This helped Manipur’s two medium-pacers Bishworjit Rajendro and Thomas Smith to finish with a bag of three wickets each at the cost of 28 and 35 runs respectively.
However, once into the chase, the visiting side found itself in a corner as leg-spinner Sudhesan Midhun ran through the Manipur innings to emerge hero of the second Kerala win, with a rich haul of four wickets conceding only five runs.
Only N. Johnson Singh with 27 could contribute anything of note to the Manipuri cause as the side succumbed to its fourth straight defeat, ending with a total of 74 for seven.
Kerala will play Vidarbha next as the team regroup to pursue their chances of qualifying, following a rest day on Wednesday.
Kerala 149 for nine in 20 overs (Sachin Baby 48, Robin Uthappa 29, Bishworjit Rajendro 3/28, Thomas Smith 3/35) beat Manipur 74 for seven in 20 overs (N. Johnson Singh 27, Sudhesan Midhun 4/5)
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