While his teammates waited for him to lead them back to the pavilion after the day’s play, Gurkeerat Mann signalled the Punjab physio to come to the ground. After spending some time with the physio, Mann advised Punjab spinner Varun Khanna to do the same.
For someone who scored a scintillating double hundred in a single day’s play, that too his first in first class cricket, Mann was very composed. And yet it was the Mohali cricketer’s batting along with wicketkeeper Gitansh Khera’s hundred that ensured Punjab declared their first innings at 604 for 5. It also saw Mann and Khera putting together a 306-run stand for the sixth wicket against the Railways at the PCA stadium.
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The day started with Punjab losing the steam initially as overnight centurions Mandeep Singh and Uday Kaul failed to add much to their respective scores and departing early.
Captain Yuvraj Singh too left early, departing for 23, falling to the guile of leg-spinner Karn Sharma. From 235/2 at the start of the day, Punjab had been reduced to 298 for 5 and only 17 overs had been bowled. From a position of strength, the hosts were suddenly in a bit of discomfort.
In walked Mann. He played five dot balls before making his intentions clear with a cover drive of medium-pacer Ranjit Mali to the boundary. Post lunch, Mann had his best reserved for Karn Sharma as he belted five boundaries off his seven overs besides lofting Kadam for a huge six. While Khera held fort at one end, Mann went from 45 to 136 in the period between lunch and tea.
“I think it’s a big confidence booster and good for the rest of the season for me,” said Mann, who has got his first senior India call up for the ODI series against South Africa. “For the past few months I have been batting well. It’s a good thing that I have got runs under the belt before the tour. Scoring runs is always a pleasure. This is my first double hundred and I am very happy about it.”
Talking about his plans for the upcoming ODI series, Mann said: “Scoring runs before joining the Indian team is always a morale booster. Yuvi paji told me to concentrate on this match and then think about the Indian team.”
The post tea session Mann and Khera add 100 more. In this period Khera brought up his hundred and Mann followed with a lofted shot to complete his first double century, bettering the 157 he had made against Karnataka in the 2013-2014 season.
Brief scores: Punjab 604/5 decl in 171.1 overs (Gurkeerat Singh Mann 201 n.o., Uday Kaul 112, Mandeep Singh 109, Gitansh Khera 102 n.o.) vs Railways 14/0 in 6 overs.