For the last two days, Lakhwinder Gill sat in the stands of the IS Bindra PCA Stadium and watched his son Shubman play a marathon knock against Tamil Nadu. On Sunday, Shubman returned to the pavilion after his 268-run knock, the highest individual score of the current Ranji Trophy season. Punjab posted a first innings total of 479 and reduced the visitors to 165 for 3 at the end of the third day’s play, still 98 behind.
The U-19 World Cup star had started the day on 199 and Gill would add 69 runs in less than two hours. While Saturday had seen Shubman scoring at a strike rate of more than 100, Sunday saw him playing with aggression mixed with patience. Veteran Yuvraj Singh hit 41 runs off 34 runs, but had to cede the limelight to his much younger teammate.
Shubman departed after 10 overs when he was stumped by Dinesh Karthik to give Tamil Nadu off-spinner Sai Kishore his third wicket of the day. “I am hitting the ball well and it’s a good phase. There are still some matches to be played this season and my aim is to score heavily in them. It was an important knock for me as a big innings was due from me. We wanted to make sure that we have a big first innings lead and my focus was to bat normally. I did not think about a triple hundred but my aim was to play according to the (merit of the) ball,” shared Shubman.
After his dismissal which left Punjab at 469 for 6, the hosts lost four wickets for 10 runs with Kishore picking three of them. He bowled a tight line on Sunday, troubling batsman with his variations. It was his maiden five-wicket haul in 10 first-class matches so far and Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar was all praise for the bowler.
“In terms of the whole match, such bowling performance is never too late. We are glad that he fought back after Saturday and took those wickets today. It will give Sai Kishore a lot of confidence and it will be useful for us in further matches. He is getting into good rhythm and it is good for the team,” shared the former India all-rounder.
With the wicket slowing down, Tamil Nadu batsman showed some resistance with openers Abhinav Mukund and N Jagadeesan hitting half-centuries. While Jagadeesan fell to Yuvraj Singh in the 22nd over, before Baba Aparjith was LBW off the next ball. Mukund’s 141-ball resistance for 74 came to an end when he was caught by Jiwanjot Singh off Sandeep Sharma.
Punjab bowling coach Harvinder Singh says it will be a tough task for the bowlers to pick early wickets with the pitch getting slower but the team will try for an outright win. “The wicket is not like it was on the opening day. It has slowed down and has become difficult to bowl on. There is slow turn and the fast bowlers will also need to bowl well to provide some early wickets in the first 15-20 overs tomorrow. An outright win is important at this stage as all other teams will also play with this mindset in the next matches,” said Harvinder.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 215 all out and 166 for 3 in 46 overs (Abhinav Mukund 74, N Jagadeesan 50) vs Punjab 479 all out in 118.5 overs (Shubman Gill 268, Mandeep Singh 50, R Sai Kishore 6/107).