November 24, 2000

Kerala in sight of surprise victory over fancied Karnataka

Karnataka were facing the prospect of a crushing defeat at the hands of Kerala in a Ranji Trophy South Zone clash at the Nehru Stadium in Kochi. At close the visitors were reeling at 31/4 in their second knock after the top order caved in abjectly to the Kerala attack. Earlier a century from Sunil Oasis had given the hosts a sizable 129 run first innings lead.

Having made 30 overnight, the 27 year old Oasis became the first Kerala player to reach the landmark of 2500 runs in the Ranji Trophy early in the morning. Resuming at 168/3, Kerala lost four men in the first session, sliding to 213/7 before Oasis launched an effective recovery in the company of the tail. Left arm spinner Santosh Vadiaraj had cleaned up the middle order with three wickets, including two in an over, as the hosts went into lunch at 232/7.

No.9 batsman M Suresh Kumar (25) led a charmed life, being dropped twice in the course of a fifty run partnership with Oasis. After his departure VB Kamaruddin proved to be another difficult customer, adding 66 runs with Oasis for the ninth wicket. Oasis who was dropped on 78 by Akhil at first slip off Vijay Bharadwaj went on to reach his sixth Ranji century in 44 games. He was finally dislodged by Venkatesh Prasad for 120 (276 balls, 10 fours, 1 six). Kamaruddin (24) and Tinu Yohannan (21) took the score to 365 before Kerala skipper Ananthapadmanabhan declared the innings closed.

It was Oasis who struck the first blow in Karnataka's second essay, removing Arun Kumar for 11 in the fourth over. His fellow opening bowler Yohannan trapped Mithun Beerala leg before as the visitors slumped to 18/2. Left arm spinner Sreekumar Nair then struck two late blows to take out Barrington Rowland and nightwatchman Vadiaraj in successive overs. Vijay Bharadwaj and AR Mahesh were holding the innings together at close and Karnataka will resume on Saturday with 98 still required to avoid an innings defeat.