Sports Reporter

Palakkad: A record unbeaten 193-run partnership for the fourth wicket between skipper Swapnil Asnodkar and import Ajay Ratra saw Goa post a healthy 328 for three against Kerala on the opening day of the Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy plate league clash at the Fort Maidan here on Monday.

The visiting skipper elected to bat on a wicket that looked hard and bouncy. Openers Asnodkar (137 not out, 19x4) and Sagun Kamath (52, 87b, 8x4, 1x6) quickly got to work and started to score at a brisk rate. And, that dented the confidence of the home team bowlers.

Sagun took the easy route while Asnodkar preferred to play second fiddle. The former, however, fell shortly before lunch to a dipping delivery from former India paceman Tinu Yohanan, but not before completing a century partnership with his skipper.

Advit joined Asnodkar in the middle and the two stayed put till lunch.

Transformed lot

In the afternoon, the home team boys looked a transformed lot all of a sudden. Kerala skipper Sony Cheruvathur struck in the very first over after lunch trapping Advit plumb in front for eight. Tinu followed it up with a beauty of a delivery that left vice-captain J. Arun Kumar rattled and clueless.

But before any further damage could be done, Ratra and Asnodkar shored the team to safety with some sensible batting.

Huge confidence

The kind of freedom with which they played their shots clearly displayed their huge confidence. They not only broke the fourth wicket record partnership of 158 between Vivek Jaishima and Rajesh Naik against Kerala in 1997-98 but also completed 2500 runs in first class cricket.

“The first day of the season is very crucial, and I am glad we performed well. It was also great to see Ratra play with so much of confidence. He made cricket look very simple,” said Asnodkar.

“It was the other way round. In fact, I enjoyed watching Asnodkar play,” said Ratra.

Goa’s coach, Dodda Ganesh, was a happy man. “It was a good toss to win and our batsmen made the best use of the pitch conditions to call the shots. Both Swapnil and Ratra played to the merits of the ball and rotated strikes for singles. In fact, that made all the difference.”

“It’s still a long way to go. We will continue with the same basics and probably in the later stages decide on our next course of action,” he added.

Kerala’s coach, Vedam Hariharan, felt the team could still catch up. “A good first session tomorrow and we will be back in the game,” he said.

The scores:

Goa — 1st innings: S. Asnodkar (batting) 137, S. Kamath c Sreekumar b Yohanan 52, Advit Katkar lbw b Cheruvathur 8, J. Arun Kumar b Yohanan 5, A. Ratra (batting) 109, Extras (b-6, lb-1, nb-9, w-1) 17; Total (for three in 90 overs) 328.

Fall of wickets: 1-105, 2-119, 3-135.

Kerala bowling: Yohanan 13-1-45-2, Prasanth Chandran 13-5-22-0, Cheruvathur 20-3-77-1, Rakesh 13-1-62-0, Anish 10-0-56-0, Jagadeesh 3-0-19-0, Sreekumar 17-4-40-0, Rohan 1-1-0-0.

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