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Top cricketers from other states who have played for Kerala

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Sahil Jain

Kerala is a state that might not be synonymous with cricket, but the game is very popular in the state. Only three Kerala-born cricketers (Sanju Samson, S Sreesanth, Tinu Yohannan) have gone on to represent India and among them, only one (Sreesanth) played for a period of time.

Kerala started competing from the 1957-58 season. They have played over 300 first-class matches and more than 125 List ‘A’ games. In the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season, Kerala qualified for the quarter-finals and made history as they went past the group stage for the first time in the history of the tournament.

Over the years, there have been a few star cricketers who have represented Kerala in professional (domestic) cricket. Who are these cricketers? Let’s look at five such top players who have played for Kerala at some point in their careers.


#5 Sadagoppan Ramesh

Sadagoppan Ramesh was one of India’s first-choice openers during the late 1990s and early 2000s. He made his international debut in Chennai in a Test match against Pakistan in January 1999. He made 43 off 41 balls in his debut innings against the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq.

He scored three consecutive Test fifties against Pakistan in 1999 and also got the coveted maiden ton against Sri Lanka in the same year (1999). He got another couple of half-centuries and also another ton (against New Zealand) by the end of that year (1999). However, his form dipped and after a period of time, the team management lost faith in Ramesh.

He didn’t have a great ODI career. In 24 ODIs, he scored 646 runs (which includes 6 half-centuries) at an average of 28.08. He played his last international game in 2001.

He originally played for Tamil Nadu but for a couple of seasons (2005-06 and 2006-07), he moved to Kerala before moving to Assam in 2007 and finally retiring.

#4 KB Pawan

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KB Pawan was one of the regular players in the Karnataka side. Making his debut as a 20-year-old in the semi-final of the 2006-07 Ranji Trophy, KB Pawan had a sedate start to his first-class career.

He was one of the premier top-order batsmen for Karnataka towards the end of the last decade (2000s) and the early part of this decade (2010s). Before the 2013-14 season, he moved to Tripura for one season. He then moved to Kerala for a couple of seasons before moving to Nagaland.

The 30-year-old top-order batsman has been in good form in recent times. He has been playing in the Plate Group, Vijay Hazare Trophy, representing Nagaland.

#3 Arun Karthik

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Arun Karthik will never be forgotten by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) fans. The Tamil Nadu-born cricketer struck a six off the final ball of a must-win Champions League game against South Australian Redbacks in 2011 to take his team through to the semi-finals.

It’s been over 10 years since Arun Karthik made his first-class debut. It was in the 2007-08 season that he shot into the limelight and he played for Tamil Nadu for close to a decade before making a move to Kerala.

Last year ahead of the domestic season (2017-18), Kerala acquired the services of the experienced wicket-keeper batsman. However, he has hardly donned the gloves for Kerala and he plays as a pure batsman. His experience has been vital and Kerala will hope it continues this year as well.

#2 Iqbal Abdulla

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Iqbal Abdulla burst onto the scene during India's Under-19 World Cup triumph in 2008 under Virat Kohli. He is a classical left-arm spinner who loves tossing the ball up and extracting turn off the surface.

He has been a regular IPL player over the last few years. A smart left-arm spinner has often shown his ability in the shortest format of the game. However, before making a name as a T20 specialist, he represented Mumbai in first-class cricket for about 9 years.

In 2016, he moved to Kerala in order to get more opportunities and more game time. Overall, Abdulla has played 59 first-class games, 78 List ‘A’ games and 88 T20 matches in his career. He has taken over 350 wickets in all forms of domestic cricket. He last played for Kerala in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in early 2017. However, he was last seen playing in the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League earlier this year.

#1 Jalaj Saxena

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Over the years, Jalaj Saxena has been one of the most underrated all-rounders going around in the Indian domestic circuit. It was in the 2016-17 season that he ended his association with his state of birth Madhya Pradesh (where he played for more than a decade) and moved to Kerala for professional cricket.

He had a phenomenal Ranji season last year. He finished as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament (44 wickets at 17.11) and also returned as the second highest run-getter for Kerala (522 runs at 52.20).

He had a very good Vijay Hazare Trophy this year as well. He was once again Kerala’s standout player. In 6 innings, he took 12 wickets and scored 198 runs. Thus, he’s become an absolutely vital player for Kerala in the last couple of years and his move from Madhya Pradesh has been a fruitful one.

Edited by Aadya Sharma

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