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Ranji Trophy | Daunting task for Bengal on final day

 Kerala’s tactics were bizarre after having the opposition on the mat as it allowed Bengal a whiff of a chance to force a draw on the final day of the Ranji Trophy match at the St.Xavier’s College ground here.

Kerala didn’t enforce the follow-on after bundling out Bengal for 180 in the first innings. The host batted for two sessions and declared the second innings at 265 for six to leave Bengal a mammoth target of 448 to win. Bengal finished day three at 77 for two on a track with variable bounce and faces a daunting task on Monday.

Kerala ended the day on a high as leg spinner Shreyas Gopal got a delivery to climb and took the edge of Sudip Kumar Gharami’s (31) bat and to the safe hands of Akshay Chandran in the slips. 

Gharami and Abhimanyu Easwarn till then had played the Kerala spinners with ease and had added 50 runs for the second wicket. Easwaran once again showed poise and technique against Kerala spinners to remain unbeaten on 31. Bengal’s fortunes on the final day will depend a lot on Easwaran.

Earlier, It only took 13 deliveries for Jalaj Saxena to wrap up the Bengal innings and end up with the career-best figures of nine for 68. Jalaj had Suraj Sindhu Jaiswal (9) edging a catch to Rohan Kunnummal at short leg and then castled Karan Lal for 35 to dismiss Bengal for 180.

Kerala needed a quick start and openers Rohan Kunnummal and Jalaj Saxena played the Bengal spinners comfortably and punished the loose deliveries without taking any undue risks. Rohan clattered a few boundaries and hit Ankit Mishra over long-on for a six to reach his half-century. Jalaj complemented his partner well as the openers scored briskly to add 91 runs for the first wicket. Rohan (51) was trapped in front off a grubber from Shahbaz.

Soon after, Jalaj missed his sweep against Ankit Mishra and out leg before for 37. Sachin Baby (50) and Akshay Chandran (36) added 87 runs for the third wicket before Baby perished to a big shot. Shreyas then attacked the Bengal spinners to score a rapid 50 off 58 balls as Kerala declared the innings at the stroke of tea.

The scores: Kerala-1st innings: 363

Bengal -1st innings: Abhimanyu Easwaran c Rohan b Jalaj 72, Ranjot Singh Kharia b Nidheesh 6, Sudip Kumar Gharami c Rohan b Jalaj 33, Manoj Tiwary c Akshay b Jalaj 6, Abishek Poral c Rohan b jalaj 2, Anustup majumdar c Baby b Jalaj 0, Shahbaz c Prem b Jalaj 8, Karan Lal b Jalaj 35, Akash Deep c Sanju b Jalaj 4, Suraj Sindhu Jaiswal c Rohan b Jalaj 9, Ankit Mishra not out 0 Extras (b-4, nb-1): 5 Total (in 51.1 overs): 180.

Fall of wickets: 1-43, 2-107, 3-118, 4-122, 5-122, 6-129, 7-145, 8-151, 9-173.

Kerala bowling: Thampi 2-0-16-0, Jalaj 21.1-3-68-9,Nidheesh 9-1-35-1, Shreyas 7-0-30-0, Basil 11-2-25-0, Akshay 1-0-2-0

Kerala-2nd innings: Rohan S. Kunnummal lbw Shahbaz 51, Jalaj Saxena lbw Shahbaz 37, Sachin Baby c Akash b Mishra 51, Akshay Chandran lbw Karan 36, Shreyas Gopal not out 50, Mohammed Azharuddeen c Shahbaz bt Kharia 18, M.D. Nidheesh c Gharami b Shahbaz 11, N.P. Basil not out 6 Extras (b-1, 1b-2, nb-2): 5 Total (for six wkts decl in 64.2 overs): 265.

Fall of wickets: 1-88, 2-91, 3-177, 4-180, 5-234, 6-257

Bengal bowling: Shahbaz 23.2-3-80-3, Mishra 23-0-98-1, Karan 15-1-54-1, Manoj 1-0-6-0, Kharia 2-0-19-1

Bengal -2nd innings: Abhimanyu Easwaran batting 31, Ranjot Singh Kharia c Thampi b Jalaj 2, Sudip Kumar Gharami c Akshay b Shreyas 31 Extras (b-4, 1b-5, nb-2): 11 Total (for two wkt in 20-4 overs): 77.

Fall of wickets: 1-27, 2-77.

Kerala bowling: Jalaj 10-1-36-1, Akshay 5-2-15-0, Shreyas 4.4-0-15-1, Baby 1-0-2-0.

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