Kerala registered their first victory in 83rd edition of Ranji Trophy as they defeated Tripura by seven wickets in the first session of the fourth and final day in Cuttack today.

The opening pair of Kerala Bhavin Thakkar and Mohammed Azharuddeen extended their overnight stand of 117 to 151 before Azharuddeen was dismissed for 99, one short of his maiden first-class hundred. Thakkar was dismissed for 47 shortly after, and a promoted Jalaj Saxena fell short for 5, but Kerala chased down the target comfortably with seven wickets in hand. Left-arm spinner Gurinder Singh took all three wickets. Azharuddeen, who had also top-scored for Kerala with 40 in the first innings, was named Man of the Match.

Earlier in the game, Tripura batting first scored 213 thanks to  Yashpal Singh’s 50 and Manisankar Murasingh’s 42. In reply, Kerala appeared 23-run short. Tripura got a first innings lead thanks to four wickets hauls by their captain Manisankar Murasingh and part-time medium pacer Sanjay Majumder. However, Tripura failed to capitalize on it as Kerala’s Akshay Chandran and Iqbal Abdulla shared seven wickets between them to bowl Tripura out for 162 in their second innings.

With 183-run to chase Kerala got off to a great start from opening pair Bhavin Thakkar and Mohammed Azharuddeen. The pair set a  151-run first wicket partnership before Azharuddeen, unfortunately, caught behind off the delivery of spinner Gurinder Singh. The Kerala talisman Azharuddeen was batting on 99. After his dismissal, Thakkar has gone in the next over in the span of just two runs. Jalaj Saxena succumbed to Gurinder Singh’s spin. However, Kerala didn’t lose any wicket as Salman Nizar and Sachin Baby shared 20-run between them and ensured their first victory in this season. With this victory, Kerala enter the top four of Group C with 22 points. They have played eight matches. Among those matches they have drawn six and lost one.

This victory came at a time when wicket-keeper Sanju Samson breached the BCCI Players’ Code of Conduct as a result the Kerala Cricket association (KCA) formed a four-member probe committee to investigate the allegation against Samson. The allegation against Samson was that he left the Brabourne Stadium during the match against Goa without informing team management. This victory obviously boosts the controversy-hit Kerala team.

(Image credit: ESPNCricinfo)