Solan: An unbeaten 114 by Vivek Mahajan put Punjab in a commanding position against Himachal Pradesh at close of play on the first day of their three day North Zone Cooch Behar Trophy league match at the YS Parmar University ground here on Thursday. After dismissing the hosts for 125, Punjab scored 279 for eight at stumps.

Yuvraj Singh won the toss for Punjab and asked the hosts to bat first. Hari Krishan Kali dealt Himachal Pradesh three early blows with only 10 runs on the board. Hitesh Angrish (31) and Pankaj Kapoor (19) added 40 runs for the fourth wicket when Angrish was sent back to the pavilion by Yuvraj Singh. Another two wickets fell in quick succession and Himachal were 57 for six. No 10 batsman Anuj Pratap Singh (31) brought some respectibility to his team's total and Himachal managed a modest total of 125 runs. Yuvraj Singh was the most successful bowler picking up four wickets for 29 runs.

Punjab lost skipper Yuvraj Singh to the second ball of the innings. Ajay Partap Singh sent him back without scoring. Vivek Mahajan and Manav Dhuper (49) then added added 84 runs for the fourth wicket. Dhuper played an attacking knock, hitting 10 boundaries and faced only 49 balls before he was caught by Verma off Anuj Thakur. Hari Krishan Kali (32), Vikramjit Sodhi (20) and Ankur Sondhi (19) all made valuable contributions. But all eyes were on Vivek Mahajan who played elegant strokes all around the ground. He played 159 balls and hit 17 of them to the ropes. Ajay Partap Singh, Mohan Singh and Shivender Pal Singh shared two wickets each giving away 57, 45 and 72 runs respectively.