Lowly placed Odisha shocked heavyweights Punjab by registering a thumping six-wicket win in their Ranji Trophy tie at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium on Saturday.
The writing was very much on the wall for Punjab, who had been reduced to 37 for four at stumps on Day 2. On Day Three, any hope of a rearguard soon evaporated as Odisha medium pacer Basant Mohanty (6 for 42) struck at regular intervals to bundle out the hosts for 141 in the second essay.
Punjab needed a valiant effort from the remaining batsmen, but apart from Yuvraj Singh and Gurkeerat Mann nobody showed the spine or will to put up a fight.
While Odisha, who were at the bottom of Group B, brightened their chances of missing the relegation, Punjab’s road to the knockouts became more difficult. They will now need at least an outright win against table-toppers Delhi in their last match.
Earlier in the day, Punjab, resuming from 37 for 4, lost night-watchman Siddharth Kaul without a run being added to the overnight score. Next-in Gurkeerat Mann and Yuvraj then stitched a partnership of 61 runs. Mann was clean bowled by Deepak Behera for 43. Yuvraj then waged a lone battle along with Manpreet Gony (15). Yuvi made 56 off 113 balls, inclusive of 10 fours, and was snapped by keeper Haladhar Das off Mohanty. With a target of 126 to win and one day left in the match, Odisha played on Punjab patience. The visitors never looked in a hurry or any kind of pressure and waited for right opportunities to score.
The chase was anchored by Govinda Poddar (60no) with useful contributions coming from opener Paresh Patel (29). Punjab bowlers tried everything but in vain as Odisha batsmen stood resolute. Towards the end Punjab managed two wickets of Anurag Sarangi (12) and Biplab Samantaray (11) but by then it was too little and too late.