March 2018
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Vijay Hazare Trophy: Kerala boost qualification hopes with huge win over UP
(DHARAMSALA, Feb 15, 2018):Kerala continued their good run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy notching up their third win on the trot thumping Uttar Pradesh by 120 runs at HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on Thursday. Rohan Prem's solid unbeaten 66 (95 balls, 7x4) anchored the Kerala innings while Arun Kathik provided the late flourish with a quickfire 54 (36 balls; 4x4, 4x6) to guide Kerala to 261 for nine. The target clearly proved to be too big for a UP side without Suresh Raina against an efficient Kerala bowling attack, led by Sandeep Warrier (3/32) and Akshay KC (3/32), which bundled out the opposition for 141 in 39.2 overs.

The win propelled Kerala to second place in the Group B table with 14 points, ahead of Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh on net run-rate. But Kerala will need to beat Maharashtra in their last match to ensure qualification. The winner of that match will go through with either current table toppers Delhi, who have 16 points after playing all six of their matches, or Himachal if they beat Bengal in their last match.

Uttar Pradesh put Kerala into bat hoping to make good use of the early morning nip but Jalaj Saxena and Rohan thwarted those plans with a 90-run partnership for the second wicket. Sanju Samson went for just 14 but Rohan stayed put at one end to score his second successive half-century. In the process, he built a useful 87-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Sachin Baby (38 off 50 balls; 4x4, 1x6) before Karthick used the long handle to give the Kerala innings the final impetus. For UP, 19-year-old left-arm seamer Mohsin Khan impressed with four wickets (4/43).

UP stumbled in their chase with seamer, Sandeep, returning after missing the last two games due to injury, striking twice in his second over to remove PSK Gupta and Saurabh Kumar.

Other seamers Nidheesh MD and Fazil Fanoos also chipped in with a wicket each as UP slumped to 53 for five. UP could never recover from their top order collapse as left-arm spinner Akshay and part-time spinner Sachin Baby (2/11) cleaned up their tail inside 40 overs to give Kerala a facile win.

Brief scores: Kerala 261/9 in 50 overs (Rohan Prem 66 n.o., Arun Karthick 54, Sachin Baby 38, Jalaj Saxena 37; Mohsin Khan 4/43, Saruabh Kumar 2/52) bt Uttar Pradesh 141 all out in 39.2 overs (Mohammad Saif 31; Sandeep Warrier 3/32, Akshay KC 3/32, Sachin Baby 2/11) by 120 runs.

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