Jiwanjot turns it around for Punjab
Punjab 74 and 177 for 3 (Jiwanjot 105*) lead Delhi 150 (Chand 55, Gony 3-42, Siddarth Kaul 3-49) by 101 runs
Jiwanjot Singh's unbeaten 105 brought Punjab right back into the contest against Delhi after they had been shot out for 74 in their first innings. After Punjab's bowlers had bowled Delhi out for 150 to restrict their first-innings lead to a moderate 76 runs, Jiwanjot took on the Delhi attack to push Punjab's second innings score to 177 for three at stumps.
Punjab have a lead of 101 runs and will want Jiwanjot and Mandeep Singh (29 batting) to swell their unbroken 74-run partnership as far as they can. If that happens, it will present Delhi captain Gautam Gambhir a headache. A target in the 175-200 range could prove tricky. . The 23-year-old Jiwanjot batted for a shade over four hours in making his seventh first-class hundred, in just his 22nd match, and struck 15 fours. Second-innings centuries in most Ranji Trophy games are of little value in the final context but this innings from Jiwanjot could well turn the tables for Punjab, who ended the second day scenting a victory that had looked improbable on the first evening.
There was one blemish in Jiwanjot's 169-ball knock. He was on 40 when he edged one from Rajat Bhatia to first slip, where Sehwag dropped a dolly. Otherwise, his innings was an exhibition of how to bat in conditions with more bounce than the average Indian track, against a quartet of seamers in Ashish Nehra, Parvinder Awana, Rajat Bhatia and Sumit Narwal who were all making the ball talk.
After Manan Vohra was snapped up at point by Navdeep Saini off Nehra's bowling, Jiwanjot and Uday Kaul frustrated the Delhi bowlers with a 65-run partnership.
Jiwanjot got behind the line of the ball and played as straight as possible. He was always in a position to cover the swing. Even when the bowlers pitched on leg stump, he met them with a straight bat rather than going across the line. While he played Nehra with a lot of caution initially, he attacked Saini with his square-of-the-wicket shots. Saini, who frequently erred in length and line, went for 34 in five overs.
Uday, at the other end, defended dourly and frustrated the Delhi bowlers. By the time he was dismissed by Narwal, Punjab had erased the 76-run deficit. Bhatia trapped Yuvraj Singh lbw for 4, not too long after he'd survived a big appeal off Narwal with the umpire failing to detect a big nick. Jiwanjot carried on calmly and cut Awana towards backward point to complete his century.
In the morning, the Punjab bowlers first raised visions of a comeback by taking eight wickets in the first session. Virender Sehwag, who had struck Jaskaran Singh for a couple of cover-driven boundaries, was run out at the striker's end trying to run a quick single, beaten by a direct hit from Mandeep.
Unmukt Chand played a number of attractive strokes, including a straight drive off Manpreet Gony and a cover drive off Sandeep Sharma, before he went for an ill-advised hook against Siddarth Kaul, who got one to rear up from just short of a length. Chand got his execution wrong, and the edge was taken by wicketkeeper Gitansh Khera.
Chand had done the hard work in playing out the first hour and was in a position to consolidate at 55. But as has been the case with him, he paid the price for a moment's indiscretion.