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Vadodara: Jan 8, 2014
Punjab captain Harbhajan Singh made a superb return to competitive cricket as he smashed 92 off only 80 balls to rescue his team from a precarious position against an impressive Jammu and Kashmir bowling attack on the first day of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final in Vadodara on Wednesday.
Punjab scored a decent 304 in their first innings as Harbhajan and No 9 batsman Sandeep Sharma (51) added an invaluable 105 runs for the eighth wicket after Jammu and Kashmir seam trio of Samiullah Beigh (two for 56), Ram Dayal (three for 59) and Umar Nazir (four for 66) reduced them to 146 for seven.
At stumps, Jammu and Kashmir were 11 for one after opener Obaid Haroon (4) edged one from Sandeep to wicketkeeper Gitansh Khera.
Using the helpful conditions, Jammu and Kashmir bowlers — especially seamer Dayal caused a lot of discomfort for Punjab’s top-order batsmen including Yuvraj Singh (10) but the more experienced Punjab team finally wriggled out of trouble.
Coming back after a shoulder niggle that kept him out for more than six weeks, Harbhajan clobbered eight fours and six sixes in his 80-ball knock before he was out trying to slog sweep opposite number Parveez Rasool over short fine leg.
It was a duel between two offies in which Harbhajan clearly emerged as the winner over his talented younger opponent.
Harbhajan in fact punished Rasool hitting him for five sixes in seven balls with a couple that landed outside the Moti Baug ground over deep mid-wicket fence. Two more were hit over sight screen clearing the ground while another was also hit towards the deep end. Rasool had a poor outing with the ball as he went for 64 runs in 13 overs.
The 33-year-old also hit some crisp drives on the up off medium pacer Mohammed Mudhasir and Nazir. When Rasool pitched it wide, he was promptly on the back-foot to cut him past the point fielder.
Punjab 304 (Harbhajan Singh 92, Sandeep Sharma 51; Umar Nazir 4 for 66, Ram Dayal 3 for 59) lead Jammu and Kashmir 11 for 1 by 293 runs.
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