Kerala’s hopes for a huge target bank on well-settled batsman Mohammed Azharuddeen, unbeaten on 76 in their second dig, as the visiting side ended day two at 127/3, ahead by 31 runs in their Ranji Trophy 2018-19 Round 8 Elite B match against Punjab on Monday.

Resuming their first innings after bowling out Kerala for a meagre 121 thanks to Siddharth Kaul, at 135/2, Punjab folded for 217. Captain Mandeep Singh top scored with 89 off 182 deliveries – his knock studded with six boundaries and one six. Jiwanjot Singh was the next highest run-scorer with 69. Sandeep Warrier was the pick of the Kerala bowlers with 5/83 in his 27.2 overs.

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In reply after conceding a first-innings lead, Kerala were on the backfoot losing opener KB Arun Karthick for a duck to Manpreet Singh Grewal. Rahul P was dismissed by Mayank Markande for 28. However, Azharuddeen stood firm to reach his fifty and was unbeaten on 76 off 122 – his innings decorated with six boundaries and two hits over the fence. Captain Sachin Baby was not out on 16.

Brief scores: Kerala 121 & 127/3 (Mohammed Azharuddeen 76) lead Punjab 217 (Mandeep Singh 89, Jiwanjot Singh 69; Sandeep Warrier 5/83) by 31 runs