Harbhajan Singh couldn’t stop himself from breaking into an impromptu jig as the Punjab dressing room burst into celebrations. And they thoroughly deserved it,for the home team’s eight-wicket victory over Orissa on Saturday was their first outright win in the Ranji Trophy in four years with the previous one coming in 2007,interestingly,against the same opposition.
If the drought has finally ended,the credit must go to Harbhajan the captain and coach Vikram Rathore. After a poor showing against Uttar Pradesh in the last match they conceded the first innings lead and narrowly escaped defeat Punjab gambled on a seamer-friendly track against Orissa at the PCA Stadium in Mohali. And even though little separated the two Group B teams in the first essay,Harbhajan’s bold declaration and excellent bowling by seamers Manpreet Gony and debutant Brainder Singh helped the hosts bag five points.
Gony picked up 5/13 and Brainder 4/27,as Orissa were bowled out for 73 in a little over two sessions today. The duo bowled in the right areas and incessantly probed the Orissa batsmen,who wilted under the pressure. Four of their batsmen could not even open their account. Punjab chased down 70 for the loss of two wickets.
Punjab coach Rathore,who has been instrumental in shaping up this team,could not hide his emotions. I’m proud of the team. Our bowlers bowled to their abilities. Brainder and Sandeep (Sharma) came up with incredible bowling spells, he said,adding that wicket-keeper Gitansh Khera also deserved a mention for his gritty 47-run knock in the first innings despite a hairline fracture in one of his fingers.
We played like a hungry unit and succeeded, he said.
Orissa coach Debasis Mohanty said: I think the Punjab seamers bowled incredibly well in the morning session. Once we lost seven wickets in the first session,it was impossible to make a comeback. Our batsmen needed to stay at the wicket for longer period,but they failed to do so.
Punjab take on Saurashtra in their next match starting on November 17.
Brief scores: Orissa 251 all out and 73 all out in 34.5 overs (Subhrajit Sahoo 21,Manpreet Gony 5/13,Brainder Singh 4/27) lost to Punjab 255 all out and 70 for 2 in 18.5 overs (Ravi Inder Singh 34 not out,Mandeep Singh 26 not out)