Fiery Umesh wrecks Kerala

Umesh Yadav. File photo

Umesh Yadav destroyed Kerala with a fiery spell, picking up seven wickets as Vidarbha took control on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal at the Krishnagiri stadium here on Thursday.

The defending champions bundled out Kerala for 105 in the first innings before reaching 171 for 5 in 45 overs at close.

Yadav, who was part of the Indian team that won the Test series in Australia recently, ran through the host batting line-up, taking a personal best 7 for 48.

Vishnu Vinod, captain Sachin Baby and Basil Thampi were the only Kerala batsmen to make double-digit scores after Kerala were put into bat on a bouncy pitch.

Yadav was ably assisted by Rajneesh Gurbani (3 for 38), the star of Vidarbha's maiden Ranji triumph last season. Yadav also reached the 100-wicket milestone in Ranji Trophy during his brilliant spell.

His first victim was opener Mohammed Azharudeen caught by Y R Thakur for 8. He then had Sijomon Joseph taken by R Sanjay for a duck. When Gurbani sent back opener P Rahul for 9, Kerala slipped to 27 for 3.

There was no respite for them as Yadav kept up the pressure by bowling with fire and discipline. Loss of wickets at regular intervals left the host in deep trouble and there was a danger of being shot out for a sub-100 first innings total.

The usually reliable Jalaj Saxena, who came up with a crucial knock in the second innings of the quarterfinals against Gujarat, fell for a single digit score. Vishnu Vinod, the top scorer with 37 (50 balls), went for his shots and added 25 runs with No 11 M D Nidheesh (7) to take Kerala past 100 before Gurbani dismissed the latter.

In reply, skipper Faiz Fazal (75) and Sanjay (19) provided Vidarbha a solid start before the latter was castled by Nidheesh. Veteran Wasim Jaffer, who joined Fazal, helped the reigning champions consolidate with a superb 80-run stand.

The stylish Jaffer breached the 1,000- runs mark for the second time in his Ranji Trophy career. He became the first batsman in Ranji history to achieve the landmark on two occasions. During the 2008-09 season, he had aggregated 1,260 runs for Mumbai.  Jaffer (34) departed to a catch by K B Arun Karthick off Nidheesh's bowling.

After Fazal's exit, Vidarbha suffered a mini-collapse, losing three wickets for one run to end the day with a lead of 66 runs.

Brief scores: Kerala 105 all out (Vishnu Vinod 37, Umesh Yadav 7 for 48) vs Vidarbha 171/5 in 45 overs (Faiz Fazal 75, Wasim Jaffer 34).

 

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