Sports Reporter

NEW DELHI: Sunny Sohal hit a useful 110 as Punjab recovered after initial batting hiccups to reach a respectable score on the first day of its Ranji Trophy Elite match against defending champion Delhi at the Roshanara Club ground here on Monday.

Relying on the ability of his seam bowlers, Delhi skipper Aakash Chopra asked Punjab to take first strike after winning the toss. Delhi’s pacers justified the captain’s decision by picking up wickets at regular intervals to push the tourists on to the back foot.

Early breakthrough

Opening the bowling in helpful conditions, experienced campaigner Ashish Nehra provided an early breakthrough by castling opener Ravinder Singh cheaply. But the other opener Karan Goel stuck to the task and put up a 63-run partnership with Sohal for the second wicket.

Then youngster Pradeep Sangwan got into the act and picked up two important wickets. He first removed Goel and then sent back star batsman Yuvraj Singh to the pavilion for a duck to leave Punjab in a spot of bother at 92 for three. Yuvraj lasted eight minutes and faced only six balls.

Punjab skipper Pankaj Dharmani tried to steady the ship by providing Sohal some support but before long the veteran departed, succumbing to leg-spinner Chetanya Nanda.

Holding one end up

Sohal, meanwhile, held one end up to notch up his century at a decent strike rate. He consumed 177 balls in 261 minutes for his hundred, which included 20 hits to the fence.

Sohal, who became Nanda’s second victim, ensured Punjab had reached a decent score before his departure.

When stumps were drawn for the day due to bad light, Uday Kaul and Ankur Kakkar, busy in another rescue act, were at the crease.

Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya justified the team’s decision to field first. “There was moisture in the morning and we wanted to take advantage of that. Nehra was unlucky not to get more wickets as he induced a couple of edges. At the end of the day we have taken five wickets and I am very happy,” he said.

The scores:

Punjab — 1st innings: K. Goel c Kohli b Sangwan 37, Ravinder Singh b Nehra 2, S. Sohal c Sangwan b Nanda 110, Yuvraj c S. Dhawan b Sangwan 0, P. Dharmani b Nanda 16, Uday Kaul (batting) 28, Ankur Kakkar (batting) 30; Extras (lb-6, nb-6, w-2): 14; Total (for five wkts. in 85.2 overs): 237.

Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-80, 3-92, 4-139, 5-176.

Delhi bowling: Nehra 21-7-66-1, Bhandari 16-3-48-0, Sangwan 17.2-6-56-2, Bhatia 13-6-25-0, Nanda 18-5-36-2.

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