Ailing at 146 for seven, it took a captain’s brutal charge to breathe life into Punjab against Jammu and Kashmir in their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match at the Moti Bagh Stadium on Wednesday.
No fledgling with the willow, Harbhajan Singh’s 92 spanned two hours, bore seven boundary clearing blows with half-a-dozen coming off just eight balls, inspired Sandeep Sharma’s 51 and helped his side cruise to safety at 304. When stumps were drawn, J&K had responded with 11 for the loss of Obaid Haroon.
J&K chose to field, a move vindicated by the spoils it landed soon enough. New ball operators Samiullah Beig and Umar Nazir Ahmed extracted chest-high bounce thanks to the track. Pinning openers Vohra and Jiwanjot to the backfoot for most of the crucial first hour did pay off.
Vohra was first to depart, dabbing at an Umar delivery on the up, stumper Haroon only glad to accept the offering. Jiwanjot hung his bat out to dry too, off Ram Dayal, and Haroon did the rest.
If the onus was on the left-handed duo of Ravi Inder Singh and Yuvraj Singh to steady the shaky ship, the veteran succumbed to the hostile attack, snicking Dayal to second slip Bandeep. J&K’s bowling was complemented by its fielding, exemplified by Adil Rishi, sprinting from square-leg to mid-wicket with his back to the ball, and leaping forward to pluck Mandeep Singh’s pull inches from the ground.
Gurkeerat Singh cracked eight boundaries for his 38-ball 41 but Umar exacted terrible revenge, breaking the batsman’s off-stump. Ravi Inder, who sliced cuts through and backward of square for half a dozen boundaries, stretched his luck a shade too far to be snapped up by first slip Ian Dev, off Beig. But for briefly bringing himself on, Rasool persisted with his pacemen through the first session. After tea, he came in for some punishment from Harbhajan, whose lofted golf shots over long-on cleared the ropes half-a-dozen times. However, Rasool had the last word, luring his counterpart to flick to short fine-leg Rishi.
Punjab — 1st innings: Manan Vohra c Haroon b Umar 13, Jiwanjot Singh c Haroon b Ram Dayal 22, Ravi Inder Singh c Ian Dev b Beig 36, Yuvraj Singh c Bandeep b Ram Dayal 10, Mandeep Singh c Rishi b Ram Dayal 6, Gurkeerat Singh b Umar 41, Gitansh Khera c Mudhasir b Beig 6, Harbhajan Singh c Rishi b Rasool 92, Sandeep Sharma b Umar 51, Manpreet Gony lbw b Umar 5, V.R.V. Singh (not out) 9; Extras (lb-4, nb-8, w-1): 13; Total (in 81.2 overs): 304.
Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-36, 3-55, 4-71, 5-121, 6-141, 7-146, 8-251, 9-273.
Jammu & Kashmir bowling: Samiullah Beig 15-3-56-2, Umar Nazir Ahmed 18.2-2-66-4, Ram Dayal 21-4-59-3, M. Mudhasir 14-4-55-0, Parvez Rasool 13-2-64-1.
Jammu & Kashmir — 1st innings: Adil Rishi (batting) 3, Obaid Haroon c Khera b Sandeep 4, Bandeep Singh (batting) 0; Extras (lb-1, nb-3): 4; Total (for one wicket in four overs): 11.
Fall of wicket: 1-5.
Punjab bowling: Sandeep Sharma 2-0-5-1, Manpreet Gony 2-0-5-0.