Basil Thampi enjoyed a fine day out in Lahli. It began with his walking out as a nightwatchman, without a single run to his name. It ended with him scoring a maiden first-class half-century and picking up two vital wickets to reduce Haryana to 83 for 5. On the back of that effort, Kerala retained a lead of 98 runs and appear well placed to secure the victory which will seal their progress into the quarter-finals.
That may have been timely consolation for Rohan Prem, who had battled for 314 balls in search of a century only to fall seven runs short. His was the first wicket of two wickets to fall in the 101st over bowled by legspinner Amit Mishra but Thampi ensured there was no transfer of momentum, striking 10 fours and a six during his stay at the crease. Although Kerala’s tail folded relatively meekly – medium-pacer Ajit Chahal picked up his second five-for in as many matches – the damage had already been done.
It would only get worse for Haryana as they found themselves 6 for 1 in the seventh over. The run-rate remained dismal for the rest of the day – they were 39 for 3 in the 27th – and were hurt further when Thampi picked up two wickets in successive overs to leave the score at 61 for 5.
Defending champions Gujarat took a few further steps towards making the knockouts in Ranchi with Kamlesh Thakor, the debutant left-arm seamer, playing a pivotal role. The 25-year old picked up five wickets in the day to ensure Jharkhand were bowled out for 242 and then made to follow on. The hosts could not stand up to scoreboard pressure, with six of the XI falling for single-digits in the first innings. Only opener Nazim Siddiqui (71) and Kumar Deobrat (80) provided any resistance but they were removed by Gujarat’s two most impressive bowlers Thakor (3 for 43) and Chintan Gaja (3 for 49). Deobrat was promoted to open alongside Siddiqui in the second innings, but both batsmen fell to Thakor to leave Jharkhand 106 for 2 in at stumps.
As well as Saurashtra fought, making Rajasthan follow-on in Jaipur, their bid to stay alive in the tournament took a hit due to the way the other two matches in group B progressed. A win for Gujarat and Kerala will see them through regardless of what Saurashtra do. Still, captain Jaydev Unadkat (3 for 77), Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (3 for 42) and Shaurya Sanandia (3 for 62) bowled Rajasthan out for 275 and helped secure a lead of 259. Robin Bist (63) and Mahipal Lomror (52) were the only batsmen to put up concerted resistance. There was time for 12 overs in the follow-on innings, which openers Amitkumar Gautam and Chetan Bist safely negotiated.