Ranji: Saurashtra bowlers reduce Punjab to 294/9

Rajkot: Vishal Joshi (4/59) and Jaydev Unadkat (3/52) shared seven wickets between them to reduce Punjab to 294 for nine on the third day of their Ranji Trophy semifinal match here and assure Saurashtra of a huge first-innings.

In reply to Saurashtra's first innings total of 477, Punjab started the day on 41 for no loss but could add another 253 runs for the loss of nine wickets. Punjab got off a great start with the two overnight
batsmen -- Jiwanjot Singh and Ravi Inder Singh -- dominating the pre-lunch session, adding another 87 runs today to take their opening stand to 128 before the latter departed.

Ravi Inder, who resumed on 30, got out for a well-made 74 off 131 balls studded with 11 fours and two sixes. Jiwanjot continued in the able company of Taruwar Kohli but Joshi saw off the opener for 168-ball 68 including 11 boundaries.

Harbhajan Singh. AFP

Punjab, however, were comfortably placed at the stroke of tea on 246 for three before sudden collapse in the last session of the day pushed them on to the backfoot. Post tea session proved to be fruitful for the hosts as they picked up six wickets by giving away just 48 runs. From 252 for four at one stage, Punjab slumped to 287 for nine.

The dramatic collapse occurred when Uday Kaul ran for an unnecessary single and was run out, and in the very next ball, Taruwar tried to pull Unadkat's rising delivery only to manage a thick edge that Sitanshu Kotak took comfortably at first slip. Taruwar made 59. Amitoz Singh (4), Bipul Sharma (4), Siddharth Kaul (1) and Sandip Sharma (2) soon returned to the pavilion even as off-spinner Joshi and left-arm leg spinner Unadkat wrecked havoc.

Punjab are still trailing Saurashtra by 183 runs with just one wicket in hand. At stumps, Harbhajan Singh was unbeaten on 29 and giving him company at the other end was Sarabjit Ladda, who is yet to open his account.

No play was possible in the other semi-final between Mumbai and Services in New Delhi because of heavy rain. Mumbai were 380 for six at stumps on the second day having recovered from the poor show by top-order due to 211-run seventh wicket stand between centurions Aditya Tare and Ajit Agarkar. Agarkar was unbeaten on 113, while Tare was on 108.

The BCCI has a provision that if one innings of each team is not completed within the stipulated five days, a sixth day's play would be accommodated. However if the sixth day's play is also not possible, then the winner of the semi-final will be decided by spin of coin.

Brief Scores:

Saurashtra: 477. Punjab: 294 for 9 (Ravi Inder Singh 74, Jiwanjot Singh 68, Taruwar Kohli 59; Vishal Joshi 4/59, Jaydev Unadkat 3/52).

Mumbai: 380 for six in 143 overs (Ajit Agarkar 113 batting, Aditya Tare 108 batting, Sachin Tendulkar 56, Abhishek Nayar 70) vs Services.