It was to be a battle between two spinners at different stages of their careers. Pragyan Ojha, trying to cement his place in Team India, was turning out for Hyderabad and Harbhajan Singh, eyeing a comeback, was leading Punjab in the Vijay Hazare national one-day quarterfinal at the Palam 'A' ground.
The two were expected to bag wickets, but at the end of the day only Bhajji managed one.
An impressive three-wicket haul and 79* against Maharashtra earlier had brought the spotlight on Harbhajan, and another fine effort on Wednesday should have impressed national selectors, Mohinder Amarnath and Surendra Bhave, further.
But it was left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma (four wickets and 41*) who stole the show.
None of the Hyderabad batsmen, barring Ibrahim Khaleel (46), could impress. It took a beauty from Harbhajan to get rid of him. With 1/40 in eight overs, his personal show wasn't great but Punjab managed to restrict Hyderabad to 175.
While Hyderabad pacers picked early wickets, it was left to Ojha to apply the final touches. But two dropped catches didn’t help. Clearly annoyed, Ojha even yelled at a fielder.
Punjab top-order batsman Chandan Madan dug in after the loss of early wickets to ensure a five-wicket victory.
Hyderabad 175 (I Khaleel 46, A Reddy 37, B Sharma 4/31) lost to Punjab 179/5 (C Madan 78*, B Sharma 41*, 0/33)