Vijay Hazare: Harbhajan stars for Punjab

New Delhi: Delhi and Punjab qualified for the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare cricket tournament by winning their respective pre-quarterfinal matches here Monday.

Delhi thrashed Assam by eight wickets at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium while Punjab, riding on an all-round show by Harbhajan Singh, knocked out Maharashtra at the Palam Ground. Delhi will be facing Railways while Punjab will take on Hyderabad in Wednesday`s quarterfinals.

Harbhajan, who has been dropped from the national team, did himself a world of good as he starred both with the bat and ball to lead Punjab to a win in a keenly contested encounter. The off-spinner picked up three wickets before hitting a crucial unbeaten 79 to be adjudged as the Man of the Match.

Opting to bat, Maharashtra were restricted to 186 nine in 50 overs. The veteran offie came back to form with three for 35 in 10 overs while India`s young leg-spinner Rahul Sharma, who joined the squad Sunday morning after arriving here from Australia, picked up two for 45.

Harbhajan also rescued the team with his 94-ball knock after Punjab were reduced to 69 for six in the 21st over. Harbhajan stitched a crucial 86-run stand for the seveth wicket with Taruwar Kohli (46) to bail out Punjab. The 31-year-old struck seven fours and hit a huge six to finish the match in style as Punjab made 192 for eight with 10 balls to spare.

At the Ferozeshah Kotla, Assam, put in to bat, failed to handle the medium pace of Pradeep Sangwan (2/9) and Rajat Bhatia (2/13) and were skittled out for 94 runs in 32.5 overs. Young leg-spinner Varun Sood (4/36) was the Man of the Match as he wrecked the middle-order by picking up three wickets in nine balls. Left-arm spinner Pawan Negi picked up two for 12.

Assam never got the desired start and lost wickets at regular intervals. Half the side was back in the pavilion by the 24th over with just 53 runs on board.

Only four players could get to doubles figures with former Maharashtra batsman Dheeraj Jadhav top scoring with 23 off 44 balls. Rajdeep Das (20), skipper Gokul Sharma (15) and Tarjinder Singh (10) were the other players who could get to double figures.

Delhi achieved the target with ease scoring 96 runs in 20.2 overs losing just two wickets. Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan was the top scorer with an unbeaten 42 while Unmukt Chand made 22.