Mumbai: Kerala began their campaign with a six-wicket win over Pondicherry in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Twenty20 Championship at the Wankhede Stadium here on Monday.
Pondicherry, who opted to bat, ended up with 138/6 in the Elite Group E fixture. Kerala overhauled the target in 18.2 overs to pick up four points.
Off-spinner Jalaj Saxena claimed 3/13, while leggie S Midhun gave away just 21 runs from his four overs as Kerala restricted Pondicherry to a modest total. S Sreesanth, making a comeback after a gap of more than seven years, returned impressive figures of 1/29 from his quota of four overs. Ashith, who came in at No. 7, top-scored with an unbeaten 33 off 29 balls. Ashith added 51 for the unbroken seventh-wicket in the company of P Thamaraikannan (16 not out) to take Pondicherry close to the 140-run mark.
Kerala openers Mohammed Azharuddeen and Robin Uthappa smashed 52 inside five overs. Azharuddeen departed after an 18-ball 30, while Uthappa made 21 off 12 balls.
Though medium-pacer Ashith dismissed three, including Sanju Samson (32) and Sachin Baby (18), Kerala were home and dry with 10 balls to spare.
Kerala next meet Mumbai on Wednesday.
Brief scores: Pondicherry 138/6 in 20 overs (Ashith 33 not out; Jalaj Saxena 3/13) lost to Kerala 139/4 in 18.2 overs (Sanju Samson 32; Ashith 3/18).
Points: Kerala 4; Pondicherry 0.