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The Hindu
The Hindu
M.R. Praveen Chandran

Ranji Trophy | Passive Kerala failed to seize chances

A passive Kerala failed to qualify for the knockout round of the Ranji Trophy for the fifth straight season. The State came fourth in the Elite Group B with 17 points and finished 18th overall among 32 teams in the competition. 

The team managed to win only one match (against Bengal). Even though it lost only once (to Mumbai), the failure to win any away matches against lower-ranked teams – Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Assam – ended the qualification chances. 

Ruinous batting collapses, except against Bengal and Andhra, saw Kerala hand away the advantage to its rivals on a platter. The top order, except for Sachin Baby, flattered to deceive. Baby stood tall among ruins to amass more than 800 runs with four centuries. Apart from him, Akshay Chandran (two centuries) and Shreyas Gopal (one century) managed to score more than 200 runs for Kerala.

Sanju Samson was unavailable for three matches and had a poor tournament with the bat. The poor technique of the top-order batters was exposed in the swinging conditions away from home. Kerala lost early wickets in the must-win matches against Bihar and Chhattisgarh, and the first-innings totals in both these matches were inadequate to put pressure on the rival.

Batting slow for personal milestones was also detrimental to the team’s cause. The declaration being delayed to facilitate players reach landmark ultimately cost the team victories against Andhra and Chhattisgarh. 

Also read: Ranji Trophy | Akshay and Baby go big, help Kerala take huge lead against Andhra

The bowlers came up with occasional sparks of brilliance. Medium pacers Basil Thampi, M.D. Nidheesh, N.P. Basil and Akhin Sathar bowled well in patches. Jalaj once again finished as the top wicket-taker with 34 scalps. 

But apart from the spell (nine for 68 against Bengal, Jalaj struggled to create an impact and his batting was a letdown. Illnesses affected Gopal’s performance. Crucial catches were put down, but bowlers couldn’t be blamed for not trying. The team combination in some matches was baffling. 

“Overall it was a disappointing show by the team. The truth is coach M. Venkataramana had little time to work with the boys before the Ranji season. We failed to seize our moments. We will seek a report from the team management on the performance,” said Kerala Cricket Association secretary Vinod S. Kumar. 

However, coach Venkataramana defended the team and said he was happy with the performance of the team.

“It was a good performance considering that we were lying sixth with five points after four matches. This team has tremendous potential, but there are gaps which we need to work on. We have to be patient with the boys,” he said. 

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