With Punjab 27 for five in a chase of 187, Harbhajan Singh’s first successful outing in his comeback effort was being wasted. Bhajji had picked three wickets for just 35 runs in 10 overs earlier to help restrict Maharashtra.
Padded up, he twitched every time a wicket fell. Soon he had to walk in at 69/6.
Unusual for him, he dropped anchor, milked runs on a slow wicket and did not hit a six until the end. Asked later whether he’s working on batting, he laughed, “If I weren't, do you think I had made these 79 runs (off 94 balls)?
Wickets made for even better news. His earlier efforts, in the league phase, had yielded just a couple.
“The body positioning is improving and I am getting my rhythm back. I had worked very hard at the National Cricket Academy. I have bowled a lot and I am fit. Although he picked lower-order batsmen, he got his variations going, bowling a left-hander with the doosra, getting another stumped with an off-break and was miserly.
Praying for Yuvraj
Bhajji is keeping track of Yuvraj Singh. “I am talking to Yuvraj every second day. He says he is getting better.” However, he criticised the Palam ‘B’ ground where his team had played three league games last month. “You can’t have top domestic events on grounds where players are scared of diving.”
Maharashtra 186 (Paradkar 42, Harbhajan 3/35) Punjab 192/8 (Harbhajan 79 not out, M Sayyed 3/41)