On Wednesday’s moving day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal, Punjab capitulated to the might of a methodical Madhya Pradesh (MP) here at the Alur (3) ground as it walked into stumps with a 58-run second innings deficit.
Left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya’s disciplined bowling (4/31) and Rajat Patidar’s half-century (85, 167b, 12×4) stemmed Punjab’s hopes of a dramatic resurrection. Big guns failed again as openers Shubman Gill (19) and Abhishek Sharma (17) fell after holding promises. It ended the day with Anmol Malhotra (7 n.o.) and Siddharth Kaul (12 n.o.) at the crease, with five wickets remaining.
Punjab began the first session with rejuvenation as seamers Kaul and Baltej Singh had another fine burst. This time, the pair had wickets to show for their conjoined effort as Kaul smashed the centurion Shubham Sharma’s stumps in the first over of the morning for his overnight score of 102.
MP’s Rajat Patidar struck 85 in the first innings. Photo: Lalith Kalidas
MP skipper Aditya Shrivastava (1) was next in the firing line as Kaul sent the off-stump for a cartwheel. While things began to look slightly ominous for MP, Patidar pressed the accelerator alongside Akshat Raghuvanshi. Punjab had seen a challenge rising from Patidar, but Raghuvanshi craved the spotlight even more. The 18-year-old pierced the gaps elegantly with supple wristwork as Punjab’s bowlers were again crammed into the backseat. Raghuvanshi lifted the scoring and reached his half-century with a touch of flair, smashing Mayank Markande for two sixes. Meanwhile, Patidar, who notched up his fifth consecutive fifty-plus score of the tournament, anchored the innings with a trunk of boundaries. However, Raghuvanshi fell on the stroke of lunch to Vinay Choudhary for 69, which followed his 100 on debut and 50 in the league stage.
Punjab’s best passage of play in the match came in the second session when it dismissed Patidar first-up. The MP innings folded within the next 11 overs as left-arm spinner Choudhary ended with figures of five for 83 – leaving MP with a 178-run lead.
MP opened the bowling with Kartikeya in the second innings. He turned his fortunes around after a mix of poor bowling and dropped catches marred his first essay. Kartikeya put his variations into effect as he forced Gill into a hard push outside the off-stump to Patidar at first slip. Skipper Abhishek followed after a timid lob to his counterpart Aditya Shrivastava at mid-wicket off Kartikeya’s bowling. Mandeep Singh and Gurkeerat Singh Mann were also victims of Kartikeya’s guile as MP moved closer to its first semifinal appearance in five years.
MP — 1st innings: Yash Dubey c Baltej b Markande 20, Himanshu Mantri st Anmol b Markande 89, Shubham Sharma b Kaul 102, Rajat Patidar c Anmolpreet b Vinay 85, Aditya Shrivastava b Kaul 1, Akshat Raghuvanshi c Anmolpreet b Vinay 69, Saransh Jain not out 20, Puneet Datey st Malhotra b Vinay 0, Kumar Kartikeya c Abhishek b Vinay 1, Anubhav Agarwal lbw Vinay 0, Gourav Yadav c Mandeep b Vinay 0; Extras (b 0, lb 9, wd 1, nb 0) 10;
Total (all out in 154.5 overs): 397.
Fall of wickets: 1-64, 2-184, 3-243, 4-261, 5-360, 6-382, 7-383, 8-395, 9-397, 10-397
Punjab bowling: Baltej 22-10-39-0, Kaul 20-5-55-2, Vinay 40.5-10-83-5, Sanvir 10-2-29-0, Gurkeerat 13-3-24-1, Markande 37-4-119-2, Abhishek 10-0-34-0, Shubman 2-0-5-0.
Punjab — 2nd innings: Abhishek Sharma c Shrivastava b Kartikeya 17, Shubman Gill c Patidar b Kartikeya 19, Anmolpreet Singh c Dubey b Jain 31, Mandeep Singh c Patidar b Kartikeya 17, Gurkeerat Mann c Patidar b Kartikeya 10, Anmol Malhotra (batting) 6, Siddharth Kaul (batting) 12; Extras ( b 0, lb 2, wd 0, nb 1) 3;
Total (five wkts in 47 overs): 120.
Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-39, 3-80, 4-96, 5-98
MP bowling: Kumar Kartikeya 23-11-31-4, Puneet Datey 5-0-26-0, Gourav Yadav 2-0-10-0, Saransh Jain 16-1-50-1, Anubhav Agarwal 1-0-1-0.