Ranji Trophy: Rohan Kunnummal comes of age to lead Kerala's charge

Different players were tried in that position with varying degrees of success and there were questions marks going into this Ranji Trophy campaign as well.

Published: 28th February 2022 01:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st March 2022 07:46 AM   |  A+A-

Rohan Kunnummal

Rohan Kunnummal (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Express News Service

KOCHI: Kerala's search for a settled opening pair in first-class cricket has been a case of trial and error in the past few seasons.

Different players were tried in that position with varying degrees of success and there were questions marks going into this Ranji Trophy campaign as well.

Besides the opening conundrum, the absence of Robin Uthappa and Sanju Samson further weakened the team's batting and Tinu Yohannan's side needed others to step up.

Young Rohan Kunnummal has stepped forward and looks to be providing answers to many of Kerala's batting worries and delivering in spades.

On Sunday, the 23-year-old opener struck his third straight first-class century to propel Kerala to a significant eight-wicket win over Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy Elite Group A fixture in Rajkot.

Besides keeping Kerala's qualification hopes alive, Rohan walked into the history books by becoming the first Kerala cricketer to hit three back-to-back hundreds in Ranji Trophy. 

He is also only the second Kerala player to score hundreds in each innings of a game after SK Sarma did it against Haryana back in 2008. Yohannan had played in that game alongside Sarma and now he is the head coach when that feat has been repeated.

While that was a drawn affair, Rohan's efforts helped Kerala secure a crucial victory. Their final game against Madhya Pradesh will determine who will go through to the knockouts from the group.

As for Rohan, his rapid rise as one of Kerala's vital cogs this season or the sudden limelight is not affecting him.

"I am really happy in helping the team win. It is not just about me, the whole team has played its part and I received a lot of support from the coaching staff to the senior players. They all believed in me and that gives me the confidence to express myself," Rohan said from Rajkot as he is enjoying a breakout season.

The youngster alongside Rahul P has looked like a settled opening pair for Kerala this season and Rohan says that he is enjoying the opportunities.

"There will always be pressure when you open the innings and is expected to give the team a good start. But my whole career, I have played as an opener and that is something I am used to. It is about trying to give what the team needs rather than focusing on yourself," he said.

On the final day, Gujarat set a target of 214 for Kerala to chase after finishing their innings at 264.
While Rahul got dismissed early on, Rohan stayed unbeaten at the crease while making 106 (off 87 balls) with skipper Sachin Baby also playing a crucial knock of 62 as Kerala raced away to victory.

Rohan knows that the limelight is now upon him and expectations are high. But the Kozhikode native is happy he is contributing without looking too far ahead.

"I have got this far thanks to the support of my father (Sushil Kunnummal) and my family. My father encouraged me a lot through my developing years while my mother, sister and all the family members have been a constant source of support. I'm just happy to play cricket and do well," he said.



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