Vijay Hazare Trophy 2011-12, preliminary quarter-finals March 5, 2012

Harbhajan guides Punjab home in thriller

ESPNcricinfo staff

Harbhajan Singh finally lit up a quiet domestic season with a heroic 79 to guide Punjab to a two-wicket win in a thriller against Maharashtra at Palam A Ground. Harbhajan also took 3 for 35, but it was his batting which stood out, considering that Punjab were tottering at 27 for 5 chasing a modest 187. The Maharashtra seamers, Anupam Sanklecha and Mohsin Sayyed, shared five wickets between them to rattle the top order. Bipul Sharma and Taruwar Kohli staged a recovery, adding 42 for the sixth wicket. The match-turning partnership was that of 86 between Kohli and Harbhajan. Kohli fell four short of his fifty when he was run out, but Harbhajan ensured he stayed on and rallied the tail. Manpreet Gony made a dogged unbeaten 9 off 28 balls to give his captain support. Harbhajan hit seven fours and a six in his knock.

Earlier, a combined bowling effort kept Maharashtra to 186. None of the Maharashtra batsmen were able to pass fifty, with Nikhil Paradkar and Kedar Jadhav hitting forties. Punjab will now play Hyderabad in the quarter-finals.

Delhi qualified for the quarter-finals in style by sending Assam crashing to 94, before knocking off the runs in just 20.2 overs at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Delhi legspinner Varun Sood took 4 for 36 - three of them bowled - to bring Assam's innings to a close in the 33rd over. Pradeep Sangwan, the left-arm seamer, built up the pressure by taking two top-order wickets, before Sood cleaned up the middle order. Sood and Pawan Negi, the left-arm spinner, shared six wickets between them as Assam lost their last six for 41 runs. Delhi lost just two wickets in their chase as the opener Shikhar Dhawan hit an unbeaten 42 to bring an early end to the match. Delhi will play Railways in the quarters.