The North-East monsoon came at the right time to Jammu & Kashmir's rescue on the second day of its Ranji Trophy Plate Group ‘B' encounter against Kerala at the Perinthalamanna Cricket Stadium here on Thursday. The host was threatening to bat J&K out of the match when the weather intervened.

Though rain robbed about half-a-day's play, the host took the first innings lead — it was 184 for one when the play was called off, in reply to the Jammu's 173.

The visiting side would have been glad when the umpires finally decided at 3 p.m. that no further play was possible. Earlier too there was an interruption for an hour-and-a-half.

Though the drizzle didn't look threatening enough to cause a lengthy suspension, the clouds above this picturesque ground on a hilltop began to gather momentum slowly. And clouds of frustration became discernible in the Kerala dressing room. Understandably so, for its batsmen V.A. Jagadeesh and skipper Robert Fernandez were both looking in supreme touch scoring freely and a substantial first innings lead looked very much on the cards on the second day itself.

Jagadeesh, a compact batsman with pleasing strokes, will return to the crease on Friday morning needing just two more runs to complete what would be a fine hundred. He drove and lofted with confidence and was hardly troubled by the J&K bowlers.

Robert batted as fluently and was on 65 when the sky opened up. His second-wicket stand with Jagadeesh is so far worth 159. The duo complemented each other well, rotating the strike and never missing an opportunity to score. Kerala resumed at 13 for no wicket, but lost Abhishek Hegde in the fifth over of the day when he flicked medium-pacer Abid Nabi to Ian Dev Singh at square-leg.

It was a disappointing show from the Jammu bowlers, who failed to make any advantage of the overcast conditions that prevailed for most of the day. Only the third seemer Sameer Ali looked capable of doing any damage.

The scores:

J&K — 1st innings: 173.

Kerala — 1st innings: Abhishek Hegde c Ian b Abid Nabi 16, V.A. Jagadeesh (batting) 98, Robert Fernandez (batting) 65; Extras (lb-1, nb-3, w-1) 5; Total (for one wkt. in 53 overs): 184.

Fall of wicket: 1-25.

J&K bowling: Nabi 13-2-53-1, Beigh 10-2-36-0, Sameer Ali 9-1-18-0, Dutta 11-1-36-0, Khajuria 4-0-28-0, Mahajan 6-0-12-0 .

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