Sanju Samson struck an unbeaten century under pressure as Kerala survived early jitters to reach 263 for seven against Jammu and Kashmir on the first day of their Ranji Trophy Group C fixture at the Bengal Cricket Academy today.
Fresh from his India A stint on the tour to Australia last month, the 21-year-old, who has given up captaincy to focus on his batting, played almost the entire day during his unbeaten innings of 129, spanning six hours and 11 minutes, to take Kerala to safety.
Samson hit 19 boundaries and one six and was batting with Manu Krishan (six) when bad light stopped play after 89 overs.
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Opting to field, J&K took wickets at regular intervals with pace spearhead Samiullah Beigh (4/68) doing the maximum damage.
Samson, however, did not play a single loose shot and remained unaffected by the afternoon blazing heat and energy-sapping humidity.
“It was one of my best knocks. I did not have a single loose shot till I completed a century so that’s why I would rate it special. The idea is to bat as long as we can,” Samson, who was dropped by wicketkeeper Punit Bisht on 129 from the bowling of Ram Dayal, said.
Samson joined hands with K Monish (14) to put on a crucial 75-run seventh wicket stand that helped the team past 200-run mark.
“I think they scored 40-50 runs too many. If we could take on to Samson’s catch we would have finished the day on a high,” Rasool said.
Having lost two wickets in successive overs on seaming-friendly conditions, Kerala were nine for two in the fourth over but Samson stayed calm and in Jalaj Saxena, their signing from Madhya Pradesh, he got a fine ally as the duo stitched 97 runs together to build their innings.
Saxena (69; 11×4, 1×6) played a counter-attacking innings and showed his intention clear, hitting Beigh for a six en-route to his 23rd half-century, as the duo looked in control before Beigh struck twice just before lunch to reduce them to 106 for four in 31.5 overs.
But Samson remained unaffected and completed his seventh century.
Brief scores: Kerala 1st Innings 263/7 (Sanju Samson batting 129, Jalaj Saxena 69; Samiullah Beigh 4/68).