Thiruvananthapuram: A fine half-century by Mohammed Azharuddeen and valiant fight back from Jalaj Saxena saw Kerala taking crucial first innings lead on the second day of the Ranji Trophy match against Jharkhand at the Greenfield stadium here on Saturday.

At stumps, Kerala reached 250-8 and are ahead of the visitors by 48 runs.

Resuming at the overnight score of 200-9, Jharkhand could add two more runs to the total as Sandeep Warrier picked his second wicket of the innings, rattling the stumps of Sunny Gupta (24) in the second over of the day.

Openers K B Arun Karthick and Rahul started cautiously but Kerala lost their first wicket in 12th over. Sunny Gupta, who bagged Rahul’s (7) wicket further dismissed his co-opener and two more top order batsmen -- Rohan Prem (19) and Sanju V Samson (11) -- pushing Kerala to 77-4 in 30 overs.

Jalaj Saxena
Image courtesy: Kerala Cricket Association's official Facebook page


Wicketkeeper batsman Mohammed Azharuddeen led the counterattack in company of captain Sachin Baby (17) and all-rounder Jalaj Saxena. Azharuddeen made 51 off 66 (6x4, 2x6) before caught by Ishank Jaggioff Samar Quadri.

Jalaj Saxena played a patient knock and received ample support from Akshay Chandran (23) and KS Monish (18) to help Kerala secure the vital lead.

Saxena is remaining unbeaten on 47 (129 balls, 3x4) and M D Nidheesh on 7 when stumps were drawn for the second day.

Sunny Gupta enjoyed a fine day at the field with ball picking 6-94. Samar Quadri and Kaushal Singh took one wicket apiece.