Punjab win by innings in three days against Rajasthan
An inspired five wicket haul by the Punjab left arm spinner Babloo Kumar helped the hosts crush Rajasthan by an innings and 12 runs on the third day of the five day Ranji Trophy pre quarterfinal match at the Punjab Cricket Association ground in Mohali on Monday. They now play reigning champions Mumbai in the quarterfinal at the Wankhede stadium from March 20.
Resuming at the overnight score of four for no loss in their second innings, Rajasthan, 318 runs in arrears on the first innings, were all out for 306. Openers VA Saxena (11) and skipper Gagan Khoda (40) took the score to 25 but Punjab seamer Gagandeep Singh made the first inroads by trapping Saxena leg before in the 19th over of the innings. Then Rahul Kanwat (88) joined his skipper and took the score along to 97. Khoda after a patient 110-ball innings was bowled by Babloo Kumar to give the latter his first wicket of the innings.
Nikhil Doru (14) then partnered Kanwat for a third wicket stand worth 54 useful runs. Doru was trapped in front of the stumps by Babloo Kumar and he was soon followed to the pavilion by Kanwat. During his 166-minute stay at the crease, Kanwat faced 116 balls and hit 14 boundaries and two sixes.
All this while, Rajasthan nurtured hopes of making Punjab bat again and Saket Bhatia lead them from the front with a valiant innings of 53. He shared a 55-run sixth wicket stand with Rohit Jhalani (27) which took them closer to their objective. But the fall of Jhalani and a little later, Bhatia left them stranded. Bhatia, who was the seventh batsman to be dismissed, faced just 86 balls and found the boundary ropes on ten occasions.
Babloo Kumar came back and struck twice to pick up the wickets of Sanjeev Sharma and Mohd Aslam. The last three wickets yielded just 36 runs, which saw them falling short of their target by 12 runs. Babloo Kumar ended with figures of 5 for 48 from 17.5 overs.