Harbhajan goes wicketless but Punjab win comfortably

New Delhi: Harbhajan Singh went wicketless on his return to competitive cricket but lead his team to comfortable four-wicket win over Ranji Trophy semi-finalists Haryana in the Vijay Hazare Trophy at the Services Ground in Palam on Monday.

Opting to bat first, Haryana scored 243 for six and Punjab successfully chased the target in 46.4 overs losing only six wickets.

Punjab captain Harbhajan bowled eight overs giving away 46 runs in the process while Manpreet Gony (2/40) returned with best figures. Haryana captain Nitin Saini (77, 101 balls, 4x4) and all-rounder Sachin Rana (59, 52 balls 3x4, 2x6) were the main scorers.

For Punjab, middle-order batsman Amitoze Singh (76, 56 balls, 7x4, 2x6) and his partnership of 61 runs for the sixth wicket with Bipul Sharma (29 not out) in just 8.3 overs proved to be the clincher.

The other significant partnership was 78 runs between opener Karan Goel (41) and No 3 batsman Gurkirat Singh Ahluwalia (43).

The absence of seasoned Amit Mishra hurt Haryana badly as they didn`t have the required experience to check the run-flow during the middle-overs. Young Harshal Patel (2/41) got a couple of wickets but lacked support from the other end.

Brief Scores: Haryana 243/6 in 50 overs (Nitin Saini 77, MS Gony 2/40, Harbhajan Singh 0/46). Punjab 247/6 (Amitoze Singh 76, Harshal Patel 2/41). Punjab won by 4 wkts.