Kolkata: Sparkling fifties by captain Sanju Samson and his deputy Sachin Baby went in vain as Kerala lost to Saurashtra by nine runs in the pre-quarterfinals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 Championship at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
Chasing a stiff target of 184, Kerala could manage only 174/4 despite Sanju's 38-ball 59 and Sachin's unbeaten 64 off 47 balls.
The two added 98 off 65 balls for the third wicket.
Prerak Mankad picked up 2/26 for Saurashtra off his three overs.
Earlier, Sheldon Jackson's 44-ball 64 powered Saurashtra to 183/6 after Chetehswar Pujara opted to bat. Samarth Vyas smashed 34 off 18 balls. Pujara was dismissed by Manu Krishnan for 11.
K M Asif was the pick of the Kerala bowlers with figures of 3/33.
Kerala had lost to eventual champions Tamil Nadu in the quarterfinals last season.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 183/6 in 20 overs (Sheldon Jackson 64, Samarth Vyas 34; K M Asif 3/33) bt Kerala 174/4 in 20 overs (Sachin Baby 64 not out, Sanju Samson 59; Prerak Mankad 2/36).