January 25, 2002

Punjab gain healthy first-innings lead

Staff Reporter

Punjab were on course for an outright win over Assam at the end of day two of the five-day pre-quarterfinal between the two sides at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali. The hosts had reduced Assam to 53 for two in the second innings after securing a 187-run lead.

Resuming at 130 for three, Punjab were well-served by opener Ravneet Ricky, who pushed his overnight score of 46 to 88, before being dismissed. Later, Hari Krishan Kali (48) and Navdeep Singh (51) put on 76 runs for the eigth wicket and this was followed by debutant Ishan Malhatra run-a-ball 37 made with the aid of four fours. Malhatra's batting exploits follow his fine bowling performance on Wednesday; he claimed 7 for 59 in the Assam first innings. Punjab's final score of 357 meant that Assam were left to make 188 to avoid an innings defeat.

Opener Parag Das, who smashed 40 off 43 balls with nine fours, almost single-handedly ensured that Assam got off to a better start in their second dig. Assam will be looking to him and the rest of the batsmen to deliver to avoid an embarassing elimination.