The Punjab colts inched closer to title victory in the under-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy final after managing to extend their overall lead, against Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA), to huge 457 runs at the end of the third and penultimate day of the contest, being played in Cuttack, on Thursday.
Having made 355 runs in their first innings, Punjab bundled out MPCA for paltry 180 runs in the morning, and were 282 for 9 in their second innings at the time of stumps.
The day began ominously for the MPCA team, as they lost two back-to-back wickets after adding just one run to their overnight score of 166 for 5. The first to go was overnight batsman Ankush Singh, who was caught plumb before the stumps by Rahul Kashyap for a personal score of 83-ball 31.
Singh’s cameo was studded with six hits to the fence. Next-in Pranjal Dixit also fell to Kashyap in the same over after the batsman was caught by Ibbadat Thaman for duck.
With Resham Sharma cleaning up Shubham Joshi (0) and Suryansh Maratha (6), and Kashyap ending the resistance of other overnight batsman, Mudit Bhargav (60 off 227 balls, 9x4), curtains came down on the MPCA innings, with the team conceding a big lead of 175 runs.
The bowling honours were shared by Resham Sharma, Rahul Kashyap and Prince Balwant Rai, as they all took three wickets each for 23, 22 and 52 runs, respectively.
Sitting comfortably over a big first-innings lead, Punjab began their second essay in the right earnest, with skipper Shubhman Gill and first innings centurion Prabhsimran Singh putting on 73 runs for the first wicket in 12.5 overs.
At this point, Prabhsimran was caught by Pranjal Dixit off Hariom Sharan Namdev for 39 off 44 balls, inclusive of five boundaries and one six. Gill was then joined by Kunwar Pathak, and the duo raised another fruitful partnership of 63 runs for the second wicket, with the latter contributing 25.
Pathak’s departure was followed by a middle-order collapse, with Rahul Kashyap (1), Abhishek Sharma (18) and Prince Balwant Rai (0) getting out rather cheaply to reduce Punjab to 178 for 5.
Amidst the wicket-fall, Gill continued to play with aplomb and notched up a ton (111) with the help of 133 balls, comprising 11 boundaries. He fell as Punjab’s sixth wicket after getting caught by Rahul Chandrol off Shubham Joshi.
Thereafter, Ibbadat Thaman and Resham Sharma added useful 57 runs for the eighth wicket before Resham was bowled by Suryansh Maratha for the 30 off 56 balls, inclusive of four boundaries and one six. Thaman was unbeaten on 43 off 135 balls, inclusive of seven boundaries at the close of third day’s play, with team’s total reading 282 for 9 in 81 overs.
Hariom Naamdev (2 for 79) and Shubham Joshi (4 for 42) were the main wicket takers for MPCA.
Punjab Ist innings: 355 all out in 112.2 overs; MPCA Ist innings: 180 all out in 81.2 overs (Mudit Bhargav 60, Ankush Singh 31; Resham Sharma 3 for 23, Rahul Kashyap 3 for 22, Prince Balwant Rai 3 for 52). Punjab 2nd innings: 282 for 9 in 81 overs (Shubhman Gill 111, Ibbadat Thaman 43no, Prabhsimran Singh 39, Kunwar Pathak 25, Resham Sharma 30; Shubham Joshi 4 for 42, Hariom Naamdev 2 for 79).