Butterfingers Punjab let game slip

Punit Bisht’s 81-ball 73 helped Delhi wriggle out of a tricky situation and,eventually,record a 135-run win over Punjab in the North Zone domestic one-day tournament.

Written by Siddhartha Sharma | New Delhi | Published: February 23, 2012 4:41 am

Visiting team’s fielding errors helps Delhi secure bonus point in domestic one-day competition

Punit Bisht’s 81-ball 73 helped Delhi wriggle out of a tricky situation and,eventually,record a 135-run win over Punjab in the North Zone domestic one-day tournament. Bisht’s effort was complimented by Mithun Manhas (60) and skipper Rajat Bhatia (60) as the hosts,recovering after the early fall of wickets,went on to score 265. Pacer Parwinder Awana ensured that Delhi got a bonus point as he struck three early blow with his venomous in-swingers. Punjab couldn’t recover from this initial reversal as they were all out for 130.

Punjab after winning the toss put hosts into bat on a wicket that was surprisingly damp. The move worked as new ball bowler Siddharth Kaul castled opener Unmukt Chand on duck in the first over of the day. Delhi held fort until the 7th over while negotiating the pace and off-the-pitch movement before Manan Sharma (12) edged an away going delivery from left-arm Barinder Singh. Shikhar Dhawan,playing on 17 with two fours,snicked Amitoze Singh into wicketkeeper Uday Kaul’s gloves to become the day’s third victim. At this stage,Delhi at 42/3 from 15 overs looked in a spot of bother.

It was then things changed as the experienced Mithun Manhas joined Bisht. Delhi’s plan was easy to guess now. They were waiting for the wicket to dry so that the lower order batsmen could indulge in stroke play. Just as the Delhi batsmen were digging the trenches,the Punjab fielders took their eyes off the ball. Manhas was gifted a life by Mayank Siddana when on 8 with pacer Manpreet Gony being the bowler. Subsequently,Bisht was dropped at gully by Mandeep Singh on 1. The duo were in shell till the 25th over as the scoreboard read 65/3. the two were to soon change gears as the home team reached 100 at the end of 32 overs. Recalling the early part of the game,Bisht said: “The wicket was damp at the start. It wasn’t easy to play shots. So our plan was to stay put as long as possible because we knew that if we occupy the crease till the 35th over,runs will start flowing.”

Manhas and Bisht stepped in up in the batting power play,scoring 43 runs from 5 overs. When the Punjab skipper Harbhajan Singh brought in the pacer Gony and Barinder,Manhas and Bisht improvised. Bisht’s flicks over fine leg and to the square of the wicket showed the batsman’s confidence.

Fielding mistakes

Fielding cost Punjab the match as Manhas was dropped two more times,once of Amitoze and finally of Gony for a second time in the game. About his audacious scoops on the leg-side,Bisht said: “I don’t play this shot before I am playing on 30-40 runs. But once I was got my eye in,I wanted to cash in on the batting power play. And it became all the more important because Harbhajan wasn’t giving us a chance to play freely so we took our chances against the fast bowlers.”

Delhi in the last 10 overs targeted the pacers as Harbhajan Singh gave away just 38 runs from 10 disciplined overs. Bhatia joined Bisht after Manhas left. The two scored 108 in the last 10 overs with Bhatia managing to up the ante. Just when Bisht looked sure of reaching the three figure mark,a top edge that flew square of the wicket ended his innings. Siddharth Kaul positioned him perfectly to pouch the catch of Brinder’s short of length ball.

Kotla witnessed fireworks in the final 5 overs of the Delhi innings. Both Bhatia and youngster Yogesh Nagar toyed with the Punjab attack and they milked 66 runs to reach 265. Bhatia hit 6 fours and 2 sixes,one of which also brought his half century. Nagar came up with a fine 21 of 12 balls cameo.

In reply,Punjab were stung by the in-form pacer Awana who scalped the wickets of Uday Kaul,Karan Goel and Gurkeerat Mann. Ashish Nehra too chipped with a fine first spell. Bhatia bowled the first change and immediately picked Mayank Siddana while Pradeep Sangwan dismissed Amitoze Singh on 4. Later,when Mandeep looked in a fine touch,Nehra’s short pitch delivery climbed more than he expected,forcing him to scoop an easy catch at covers. Bipul Sharma and Harbhajan Singh took the responsibility of going after the target but the wicket count was just too demoralising. Harbhajan hammered two towering sixes in his 29 ball 36,Bipul remained unbeaten on 25. Delhi’s Varun Sood took care of Punjab’s lower order to start his List A career with three wickets.

Brief scores: Delhi 265 for 5 in 50 overs (Punit Bisht 73,Rajat Bhatia 60 n.o,Mithun Manhas 60,Barinder Singh 2/72); Punjab 130 all out in 32 overs (Harbhajan Singh 36,Bipul Sharma 25 n.o,Parwinder Awana 3/27,Varun sood 3/4)

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