Punjab v J&K, Ranji Trophy, 4th quarter-final, Vadodara, 4th day January 10, 2014

VRV Singh bowls Punjab into semis


Punjab 304 (Harbhajan 92, Sandeep 51, Nazir 4-66) and 296 (Mandeep 101, Gurkeerat 66, Rasool 5-58) beat Jammu & Kashmir 277 (Rasool 103, Reshi 65, Sandeep 4-46) and 223 (Hardeep 76*, VRV Singh 5-43) by 100 runs

A menacing spell by VRV Singh on the fourth morning that helped Punjab rip through the Jammu & Kashmir middle order ended up being the final word in a closely contested quarter-final in Baroda. The 100-run win ensured a home semi-final for Punjab against Karnataka; it also marked the end of J&K's closely followed campaign.

On the coldest of the four days, J&K ended the crucial first hour with just the one wicket lost but they had no answers to VRV's pace in the second hour, when they lost four big wickets in quick succession. VRV's morning spell read 9-2-17-4 and it gave him his second five-wicket haul of the season.

J&K attempted to counter the seamer-friendly morning conditions by sending in lower-order batsman Ram Dayal at the fall of Ian Dev Singh in the second over of the day, ahead of the recognised batsmen. And the ploy worked perfectly as Dayal held fort for 97 minutes before being bowled by Sandeep Sharma. J&K needed 196 at that stage and with plenty of batting to come, more fight from the smaller team was not out of the question.

VRV, though, nipped their hopes in the bud. Rasool and Obaid Haroon were trapped lbw off consecutive deliveries - both catching the batsmen in the crease - effectively ending J&K's dream of causing an upset. Manzoor Dar fell to the age-old trap of a fuller one following the short ball. He was late to bring his bat down on a searing yorker and was hit on the boot. Samiullah Beigh then edged to third slip and the game was as good as over.

The turning point, though, was VRV's first couple of overs to Hardeep Singh. The batsman had braved the morning session with a firm resolve and had managed to keep the runs flowing. He took a blow on the body off the bowling of MS Gony once, but it was VRV's lift that left him bruised. Twice in two overs, he was hit on his right hand, the second one forcing him to walk off. J&K were 113 for 3 then and Hardeep was on 43, but his departure exposed the incoming batsmen.

Hardeep came back to bat at the fall of the seventh wicket, but by then the damage had been done. With the sun warming the air in the second session, the last two wickets added 74 before J&K eventually folded for 223. Hardeep remained unbeaten on 76.

"We needed some partnerships today, but VRV Singh bowled well today and unfortunately, we couldn't put up a stand," Rasool said. "Once our set batsmen, Hardeep Singh, got injured, we didn't play well against VRV. One batsmen should have stood with paaji. Three hundred plus targets are not easy to chase, but we fought well. "

Harbhajan Singh, who took two wickets in the match, praised VRV and said it was a hard-fought win, and the team is now looking forward to the home semi-final against Karnataka. "VRV is a match-winner for us," he said. "The way he bowled against Haryana and here, he proved how useful he is for Punjab. I hope to see him get back in the India team one day.

"We know our conditions better than Karnataka, but they are a strong team and have been the team to beat. Still, we will need to play our best cricket against them. We will try not to repeat the mistakes we made against them in the league stage and will have our plans ready."

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 14, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    VRV was identified as the fastest Indian bowler when he was about 18.He must be crossing 25 now.It is a shame that he could not beomising pacer offered a timely and effective rehab. Others pacers were also treated the same way. bowling @ speeds lesser than Kuimble.Aeron and Yadav were recently injured and we do not know how good they are taken care of. This way 4 fastest (that we have) bowlers are blunted .Better to have selected them rther than spoiling them like this and repeatedly feilding Ishant and Zak, Nothing wrong or against them but after injury they too need time to retrain for regaining fitness and rythm.During this phase Ishant and Zak are anyway unable to perform at their best. So neither these 2 perform consistently nor the likes of VRV get a serious look ! Hope BCCI changes it policies tpo rotate atleast the pacers for the speed and not reputation

  • Kumar on January 14, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    From what we have been witnessing in this year's Ranji, its time to look beyond Ishant & Zak..so many waiting in the wings..Best wishes to all these fast bowlers and RIP Ishant !!!

  • Balaji on January 12, 2014, 14:18 GMT

    I remember VRV Singh generating pace from a smooth action. I heard he had his share of troubles and fought back to take his place. If the guy is still quick, and has added something to his bag of tricks, India needs to take a relook at him.

  • IndTheBest on January 12, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Very excited to see VRV Singh coming to terms. We need a bowler in India team who can dictate terms and dominant the match. I clearly remember VRV and Manoj Tiwari's selection in the team and then they got injured (of course at different time) by Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma respectively. I am eagerly waiting for these to be fit and firing and replace their replacement.

  • Android on January 11, 2014, 21:21 GMT

    well done J&K you fought well n congrats vrv singh

  • Anthony on January 11, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    VRV Singh and Sandip Sharma, both from Punjab, have proved their mettle in fast bowling, time and again. Unfortunately, they have repeatedly been ignored by our Selectors. Like famous Pakistani fast bowlers, our Indian Punjabi fast bowlers have the height and physical strength to bowl really fast and for long spells. To search for genuine fast bowlers, the Selectors should particularly concentrate on the region of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Rishi Dhawan is another fast bowling all-rounder from the region who after several out-standing performances, is asking what more he needs to do to get an opportunity in India team. India needs to fulfill the combination strategy of 6 batsmen, 4 bowlers and 1 All-rounder. The 7th player is always a problem, who either bats well but is unable to bowl fast on overseas pitches (Ashwin), or who bowls well but is unable to provide batting support (Jadeja). For overseas pitches, India urgently needs a genuine fast bowling all-rounder.

  • Android on January 11, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    great to see vrv back to bowling fast after 5 years of injury ....he was one of the first few genuine fast bowlers for india bowling at 145kms and above long before Umesh Yadav came into picture

  • ESPN on January 11, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    VRV hopefully can keep it up like his pace

  • Manoj on January 11, 2014, 16:28 GMT

    Bcci shld request star to show both the semifinal matches becoz this is the prime domestic tournament of indian cricket. The sporting pitches in quarters have produced thrilling matches in all quarters. Hope it remains the same.

  • Muthuvel on January 11, 2014, 15:13 GMT

    Pervez Rasool is a rising star, gun bat and bowler. Good to see JK advance, now get some quicks for us..