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We Produced More Pace – Whatmore Basks in Historic Kerala Win

After being asked to bat first, Kerala posted 185 for nine in their first innings, with Sanju Samson retiring hurt after what was finally diagnosed as a fracture on his right ring finger.

Akhil Nair |Cricketnext |January 17, 2019, 7:43 PM IST
We Produced More Pace – Whatmore Basks in Historic Kerala Win

Kerala Coach Dav Whatmore believes his fast bowlers were justifiably rewarded for their ability to “produce more pace and directing the ball in the right areas” in comparison to the Gujarat bowlers in their quarterfinal victory at Wayanad. Kerala’s 113 run win made them the first team to confirm a semi-final spot this season at the Krishnagiri Stadium.

The Sachin Baby-led outfit has etched their names in history as the first ever Kerala side to reach the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy in their 61-year history. Although 39 wickets fell in under seven sessions in the game, Whatmore refrained from being too critical of the pitch.

“The wicket in Wayanad, I am let to believe, is historically suited to pace bowling,” the 64-year-old told CricketNext after the win. “We have a good battery of pace bowlers. We directed the ball more often in the right areas than anyone else, and got the rewards for it. We got the better of the match by being able to produce more pace and directing the ball in the right areas.

“I am very satisfied with the victory. Pleased with the reaction of the whole squad. It was heartening to see that people from Wayanad and from other neighbouring districts come to the ground and watch the game. This is what we are playing for - to perform in the middle. This was a very significant victory against a good Gujarat side.

“Both teams had to play on the same wicket, and we had to bat first.”

After being asked to bat first, Kerala posted 185 for nine in their first innings, with Sanju Samson retiring hurt after what was finally diagnosed as a fracture on his right ring finger.

However, in a display of rare courage, the 24-year-old came out to bat in the second innings, to give support to Jalaj Saxena at the other end and ended up playing nine balls before getting dismissed.

“Any runs at that point of time was crucial,” Whatmore said. “The plan was to score as many runs as possible. It was gracious and courageous of Sanju to bat.”

The first innings runs, combined with Sijomon Joseph (56) and Jalaj Saxena’s (44) runs in the second innings, proved to be very significant at the end, reckoned the Kerala coach. He was also all praise for his frontline seamers who ran away with the game in the second innings, taking all 10 wickets in under a session on Day 3.

While Sandeep Warrier finished with eight wickets in the game, Basil Thampi finished with a five-wicket haul in the second innings and won the player of the match award, for his efforts with the ball and his exploits with the bat in the first innings.

“That (Sijomon and Saxena’s runs) and the 185 that we posted on the first day was very significant,” he said. “I was really happy with the intent our players showed. We knew batting was never going to be easy as a lot was going to happen from the wicket. And the boys executed their plans really well.

“Sandeep had a very difficult last season and he has come back and taken over 40 wickets this season. That is very good.

“Thampi is progressing very nicely. People have touted him as a white ball bowler but he is now beginning to bowl much longer spells than he did before, and doing it successfully. Plus, he scored 37 runs in the first innings and was declared the man of the match, rightfully.”

While a last four spot is an accomplishment in itself, Whatmore isn’t satisfied, asserting the squad will put their best foot forward when the semifinal gets underway next Thursday.

“You have to enjoy your victories, but there isn’t much time till the next game,” he said. “We are most likely going to take on the side that beat us in the quarter-final last season (Vidarbha). We will have our work cut out against them. We won’t be celebrating for too long as we need to be on top of our game.

“I am here to do a job and enjoy what I am doing with the boys. They are a good bunch of players from a skills point of view, they work hard, and we enjoy each other’s company. All those things put together, it is a nice place to be.”

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