November 4, 2001

Punjab outclasses Himachal Pradesh

Staff Reporter

A Brilliant century knock by Himachal skipper Virender Sharma (122) saved his team from a humiliating innings defeat but could not save the match as Punjab won the match by 10 wickets and collected eight points from their first encounter during North Zone Ranji Trophy League Cricket Match at PCA Stadium, Mohali.

Himachal resumed their innings from 216 for 5 with overnight not out batsman Virender Sharma (61) and Paras Dogra (5). Dogra (12) was first to depart with the team total of 246 in 75th over when he snicked leg spinner Sawal to wicket keeper Dharmani. Rahul Panta (15) joined Virender Sharma and played sensibly. Virender was in attacking mood as he hammered all the bowlers. Virender Sharma while playing his 27th Ranji match completed his century in style as he smashed a powerful drive for a boundary at long on fence off Sandeep Sawal. With this be also completed 1000 runs in his Ranji matches.

Punjab took the 2nd new ball after 85 overs with the team score on 283 for 6 and immediately Vineet Sharma got the wicket of Rahul Panta who was caught by Vikram Rathour in first slip with the scoreboard reading 292.

Ravi Kant Sharma walked in at Panta's departure and showed courage to come forward and drive on the up. Ravi & Virender added 29 runs for the 8th wicket when Virender lost his patience and pulled a short pitched delivery to the waiting square leg fielder Sandeep Sawal off Vineet Sharma. Sawal completed the catch and Himachal were still in need of 8 runs to avoid innings defeat.

Vishal Bhatia (0) gave a simple catch at second slips to Dinesh Mongia off Gagandeep with the team on 326 for 9. Ashok Thakur (12) came in as last batsman and hit three powerful boundaries to cross the opponents total and at last edged a quicker delivery off Amit Uniyal for wicket keeper Dharmani.

Himachal scored 343 runs in 96.5 overs. Ravi Kant remained not out on 24 runs. Amit Uniyal and Vineet Sharma scalped three wickets each at the cost of 72 & 69 runs respectively. Sandeep Sawal got two wickets, while Gagandeep and Babloo Kumar accounted for one wicket each.

Punjab requiring 15 runs to win achieved the target in 4.4 overs, 7 minutes after lunch without losing any wickets. Munish Sharma scored 10 and Ravneet Ricky scored 6 runs. Punjab will play against services at Amritsar from 7th Nov. 2001 to 10th Nov. 2001, while Himachal will face J&K at Mandi from 7th Nov. 2001 to 10th Nov. 2001.