Kerala-UP match keenly poised

Published: Saturday, December 27, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Palakkad: Kerala are 191 runs away from an outright win against Uttar Pradesh, having made 32 for one in the second innings in the Ranji Trophy Elite Group A league in Palakkad on Saturday.

At close on the third day, C M Deepak was batting on 11 and Vipin Lal on one. Sujith Somasundar was bowled by Gyanender Pandey for 20.

Left-arm spinner Sreekumar Nair (3/70) and medium pacer Prashanth Chandran (3/45) combined well to dismiss UP in their second knock for 255. Kerala had clinched a 33 runs first innings lead, scoring 247.

With the pitch assisting the spinners, Kerala will have a tough time in negotiating former India spinner Nikhil Chopra and Aman Verma, in their run chase.

Earlier, resuming at 48 for no loss, UP received an early jolt losing opener Jyoti Yadav (19). Suresh Raina, who joined overnight Rohit Prakash, batted fluently, adding 80 runs for the second wicket before Raina (39) edged Prashant Chandran to slip fielder Sunil Oasis.

Rahat Elahi joined Rohit and they took the score past 150 and at lunch UP were 154 for two. However, Sreekumar struck soon after, having Rohit leg before for 79 (174 b, 8x4).

Left-arm spinner Suresh Kumar dealt a major blow by dismissing Rizwan Shamshad (9) and Pandey (0) in one over to put the visitors in a spot. Thereafter, wickets fell regularly, with Sreekumar and Prashant chandran doing the damage. Elahi remained unbeaten on 74 (8x4).

Meanwhile, the Elite A group Ranji Trophy match between Baroda and Railways is poised for an interesting finish after the hosts managed to avoid the follow-on and made Railways bat again on the third day of the encounter played at IPCL ground in Vadodara.

Railways were tottering at 84 for eight wickets when the stumps were drawn and have taken an overall lead of 220 runs.

Earlier, resuming at their overnight total of 73 for five wickets, Nayan Mongia and Tushar Arothe could not survive for a long and lost the former when the team's total was 79 runs.

Ajit Bhoite then came to the crease at the fall of Mongia's wicket and took upon himself the responsibility of scoring runs and prevent the inevitable follow-on.

Arothe and Bhoite added valuable 73 runs for the seventh wicket and took the total to 152 runs. But both of them became the target of effective spin bowling of Madan Yadav when he clean bowled Arothe and also did not allow Bhoite to remain at the crease for long.

After losing 8 wickets at a total of 163 runs, Baroda looked in a precarious position but then tail enders Rakesh Patel (22), Valmik Buch (24 not out) and Shekhar Joshi 11 proved everybody wrong and took the total to 217 runs and thus forced railmen to bat again.

In their second essay, Railways batsmen could not withstand the accurate bowling of Baroda bowlers and were soon reduced to 37 for four at tea.

After tea, they lost four more wickets and were 84 for eight wickets at draw of stumps with S Wankhede (6) and Saxena (0) being on the crease.

In Mohali, the Mumbai speedster S Hazare struck thrice to reduce Punjab's first innings to 70 for five on the penultimate day of the four-day elite Group 'A' Ranji Trophy cricket match.

In reply to the defending champions' first innings score of 224, Punjab were in dire straits losing wickets at regular intervals.

The hosts now face an uphill task of reaching the semi-finals. Mumbai, with 20 points, are the first to qualify from the group to the knock out stage.

Hazare came up with some incisive bowling to dismiss opener Munish Sharma (18), Pankaj Dharmani (15) and Reetinder Singh Sodhi (0).

The visitors got an early breakthrough when opener Ravneet Ricky failed to read an incoming delivery from Usman Maulavi and bowled for seven when the team's score was 11.

Punjab lost two wickets at the total of 45 which tilted the balance in favour of Mumbai. At close of play Samrat and Chandan Madan were batting at 11 and 12 respectively.

Earlier, Mumbai, resuming at their overnight score of 180 for eight, added valuable 44 runs before their first innings terminated at 224.

Robin Morris was the top scorer with 81, which included 11 hits to the fence and one six.

Meanwhile, Y Venugopal Rao scored a fluent century as Andhra piled on the misery on an under-strength Delhi team in their four-day Ranji Trophy cricket match at Vishakapatanam.

Venugopal hit a majestic 142 in Andhra's first innings score of 417 for seven at close on the second day of the match. Captain M S K Prasad (71) and Y Ganeswar Rao (53) also joined in the run feast with impressive half-centuries as Delhi bowlers struggled to contain the home batsmen.

Resuming at 186 for three, Andhra took advantage of a weak bowling attack to compiled the 400-plus score, which virtually knocks Delhi out of the competition.

The visitors, in a must-win situation to have some hope for a semi-final berth, are unlikely to force a result in their favour in the next two days in the absence of seven regular players including Aakash Chopra, Virendra Sehwag, Ashish Nehra, Gautam Gambhir, Mithun Manhas, Amit Bhandari and Sarandeep Singh.

Venugopal, who hit 17 fours during his 524-minute stay at the crease, was involved in two century-plus stands. He put on 150 for the fourth wicket with Prasad and 105 with Ganeswar Rao.

For Delhi, Kunal Lal was the most successful bowler with figures of two for 83. N S Negi, who scalped Venugopal, Sanjay Gill, Harender Choudhary and Abhishek Sharma picked one each.

Sreekumar, Prasanth share honours

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