Ranji Trophy: Jalaj Saxena's seven-wicket haul puts Kerala in command

Jalaj Saxena
Jalaj Saxena proved his value yet again. Photo: Special Arrangement

Thiruvananthapuram: Veteran off-spinner Jalaj Saxena wrecked Bengal on the second day of their Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match against Kerala here on Saturday. Saxena scalped seven as Bengal finished on 172/8 in reply to Kerala's first innings total of 363. The visitors need 42 runs more to avoid the follow-on mark.

Ranjot Singh Kharia was clean bowled by M D Nidheesh for six but not before he had put on 43 with Abhimanyu Eswaran for the first wicket. Eswaran and Sudip Kumar Gharami were invloved in a 64-run second-wicket stand before Saxena turned it around.

He sent back Easwaran (72),  Gharami (33), wicketkeeper-batter Abishek Porel (2), Anustup Majumdar (0), captain Manoj Tiwary (6),  Shahbaz  Ahmed (8) and Akash Deep (4) in quick succession as Bengal slipped from 107/1 to 151/8. This was the 37-year-old Saxena's 29th five-wicket haul at the first-class level. 

Earlier, Akshay Chandran scored a hundred while overnight centurion Sachin Baby departed for 124 as Kerala were bowled out for 363.

Resuming on 265/4, Karan Lal provided Bengal the early breakthrough by removing Sachin. The southpaw's 261-ball knock contained 12 fours and a six. He added 179 for the fifth wicket along with Akshay.

Akshay Chandran
Akshay Chandran celebrates his century. Photo: Special Arrangement

Mohammed Azharuddeen (13) and Shreyas Gopal (2) fell quickly. Akshay registered his third first-class ton before being the eighth batter to be dismissed. The 30-year-old left-hander hit nine fours in his 222-ball stint.

Basil Thampi (20) and N P Basil (16) took the home side past the 350-run mark.
Left-arm spinner Shahbaz (4/73) was the most successful Bengal bowler, while Ankit Mishra claimed 3/84.

Brief scores: Kerala 363 in 127.3 overs (Sachin Baby 124, Akshay Chandran 106; Shahbaz Ahmed 4/73, Ankit Mishra 3/84) vs Bengal 172/8 in 49 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 72; Jalaj Saxena 7/67).

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