A spirited Odisha turned the tables on heavyweight Punjab by reducing the hosts to 37 for 4 in their second essay at the end of Day 2 of the Ranji Trophy match at Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium on Friday.
This after the visitors showed great determination to slug it out in the middle and take the vital first innings lead of 16 runs.
In this contest, Punjab batsmen have consistently found themselves tied up in knots, unable to rotate strike or hit boundaries, against a determined Odisha medium pace attack that has kept to a good line and length.
With the lead in Odisha’s bag, the onus was on Punjab to take the fight to the opposition, but their plans received a jolt in the very first over when opener Jiwanjot Singh was caught behind off Deepak Behera on the penultimate ball of the first over.
Next-in Taruwar Kohli and Uday Kaul dropped their anchors trying to stem the further loss of wickets but in the process only managed to create pressure on themselves.
With runs drying up and bowlers still getting considerable help on and off the pitch, it was a matter of biding time and wait for the batsman to commit a mistake. Uday was snapped by keeper Haladhar Das off Alok Mangaraj for 10 off 26 balls, while Kohli was caught by Anurag Sarangi off Basant Mohanty for 3 off 10 balls.
Skipper Mandeep Singh and Yuvraj Singh then tried to re-build the innings. Mandeep struggled to find the gaps and it took him 31 balls to open his account. He was eventually adjudged lbw for 4 off 50 balls leaving the entire onus on Yuvraj Singh to rescue Punjab. Yuvi on his part was more positive in his intent and was unbeaten on 18 off 36 balls.
He was accompanied by night watchman Siddharth Kaul who was batting on one. Earlier, Odisha’s Anurag Sarangi played a patient knock of 47, while down the order Haladhar Das scored 36 along with tail-enders to help his side take a slender lead.