A splendid maiden hundred by wicket-keeper Sanju V. Samson helped Kerala save the blushes on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group ‘C’ encounter against Himachal Pradesh at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Cricket Stadium at Amtar (Himachal) on Friday.
The gritty unbeaten 100 (173b, 266min, 11x4, 2x6) by the 17-year-old Sanju, who became the youngest to score a first-class hundred for Kerala, helped the visiting side reach 196 for eight at stumps.
The junior India batsman stood tall on a seaming wicket, while wickets tumbled at the other end of the pitch.
“Batting was difficult as the conditions were ideal for seam bowling this morning,” Sanju, who, at 17, broke the record of Rohan Prem, told The Hindu over telephone.
“Breaking that record never occurred to me while batting today, but I am glad, though, that the record is mine.”
Kerala, after winning the toss, was reeling at 28 for three when Sanju took guard and it soon became 46 for four.
A 46-run partnership for the fifth wicket with vice-captain Sachin Baby (19) helped the badly-shaken ship steady somewhat, but the loss of two wickets within a space of four balls saw Kerala slump to 92 for six.
It was an unbroken ninth wicket stand of 51 between Sanju and Prasanth Parameswaran (13 not out) that ensured Kerala would have something to bowl at on Saturday.
Seamers Rishi Dhawan (three for 56), Mohinderraj Sharma (two for 42) and Vikramjit Mallik (two for 43) shared the spoil for the host.
Kerala — 1st Innings: Abhishek Hegde c Bhalaik b Mohinderraj 26, V.A. Jagadeesh b Dhawan 0, Rohan Prem c Chopra b Malik 4, Robert Fernandez c & b Dhawan 2, Sanju Samson (batting) 100, Sachin Baby c Hemanth b Gurvinder 19, Raiphi Vincent Gomez c Dogra b Gurvinder 0, Sony Cheruvathur lbw b Dhawan 9, P.U. Anthaf c Bhalaik b Malik 7, Prasanth Parameswaran (batting) 13, Extras (lb-7, nb-8, w-1) 16; Total (for eight wickets in 73.4 overs) 196.
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-24, 3-28, 4-46, 5-92, 6-92, 7-111, 8-145.
Himachal Pradesh bowling: Vikramjeet Malik 19-7-43-2, Rishi Dhawan 23.4-7-56-3, Mohinderraj Sharma14-3-42-1, Gurvinder Singh 15-2-47-2, Mukesh Sharma 2-1-1-0.