Punjab held their nerves to register a nine-run win over Services in their North Zone Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy match played at the PCA Stadium, SAS Nagar, on Friday.
With this win, Punjab have kept their hopes of making it to the next stage alive, but need to win their last league match against Jammu and Kashmir, and also hope that Haryana are beaten by Himachal Pradesh.
Punjab started on a shaky note, losing openers Manan Vohra and Mandep Singh with just five runs on the board.
However, skipper Harbhajan Singh, who has been nursing a finger injury, went on a rampage to score 78 off 50 balls, inclusive of four sixes and nine fours. He was ably supported by Himanshu Chawla, who made 50 off 34 balls, as Punjab posted competitive target of 155.
For Services, Arnav Kush picked up two wickets for 37 runs, while Raushan Raj and Shadab Nazar snared one wicket each.
Defending the target, Punjab bowlers stifled the flow of runs, with Services making just 54 runs in their first 10 overs. In between, Punjab spinner Rahul Sharma struck at intervals to dismiss Nakul Ver ma ( 16), Anshul Gupta (10) and Rajat Paliwal (3) in quick succession to reduce Services to 36 for 4.
But Yashpal Singh and Soumya Swain led the rearguard action to get Services within the sniffing distance of a win. Yashpal was accounted by Rahul Sharma, who finished with four wickets for 21 runs, while Mandeep Singh removed the dangerous looking Swain for 46 to break Services’ charge to victory.