Opener Poonam Rahul’s unbeaten century – his maiden in first-class cricket in just his sixth game – helped Kerala reach 219/5 in reply to Himachal Pradesh’s 297, adrift by 78 runs on day two of their Ranji Trophy 2018-19 Elite B match on Tuesday.

Resuming the day at 257/7, Himachal Pradesh went on to post 297 thanks to Ankit Kalsi, overnight on 89, who registered his fourth first-class century, but was cleaned up by MD Nidheesh for 101 in the 94th over. Kalsi’s 202-ball stay at the crease saw him tonk 12 boundaries.

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For Kerala, Nidheesh was the pick of the bowlers with six for 88 in his 24 overs.

In reply, Kerala were in a spot of bother at 97/3 after 25 overs. However, captain Sachin Baby, who faced 38 deliveries for his three runs, did well to offer support to Rahul, who smashed 13 boundaries and one six in his unbeaten 195-ball 101. Mohammad Azharuddeen was the second highest scorer with 40 off 37 – his brisk innings studded with seven boundaries and one six.

Brief scores: Kerala 219/5 (Poonam Rahul 101*) trail Himachal Pradesh 297 (Ankit Kalsi 101; MD Nidheesh 6/88) by 78 runs