: Following a dominant show in the league phase, Punjab will start as favourite in its Ranji Trophy quarterfinal clash against Jharkhand, beginning here on Sunday.

Each one of Punjab’s four wins in Group ‘A’ came at Mohali. Away from the comfort of home conditions, the team struggled; it lost twice and played out as many draws. It is a factor Jharkhand may look to exploit.

Punjab skipper Harbhajan Singh will, however, derive solace from his batsmen’s fine form throughout the season. Opener Jiwanjot Singh (785 runs, four centuries, average: 65.41), in his debut season, has topped the side’s batting chart. The 22-year-old has been ably backed up by Uday Kaul (501, 62.62) and Mandeep Singh (446, 37.16).

Punjab’s bowling department has been a result of excellent performances from the seamers. Under-19 World Cup winner Sandeep Sharma (41 wickets, average: 17.95) and Siddarth Kaul (34, 23.44) have spearheaded the attack.

Mainstay

Jharkhand, meanwhile, needs to shore up its batting, which has Saurabh Tiwary (601, 50.08) as the mainstay. The bowling attack looks more assured with captain and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, claiming 40 wickets. Off-spinner Sunny Gupta and medium-pacer Shiv Shankar Rao have also chipped in effectively.

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