Everyone in the PCA Mohali Stadium eagerly awaited the start of the Uttar Pradesh chase on Friday once the visitors, led by young Bhuvneshwar Kumar, bowled out hosts Punjab for 350. It was in anticipation of Harbhajan Singh taking on the bowling mantle for his home state after four years, especially after the spinner was out for a golden duck.
But all did not go as planned and Bhajji returned figures of 17-5-41-0, which will certainly not help him to stake a claim for an India spot.
The ace spinner was able to extract extra bounce and turn and was largely able to stem the flow of runs. He also bowled much quicker through the air but never troubled the batsmen.
UP batsmen were also cautious while facing Bhajji, a fact endorsed by Mohd Kaif after he had scored a fifty. "We all know he is a world class bowler, so our focus was not to give him wicket. We were more careful while facing him."
However, the spinner will have to produce his A game on the third day as Uttar Pradesh have already managed to knock off 221 (losing just three wickets) after restricting Punjab.
Mandeep Singh remained unbeaten on 175 and also took one on his chin, from a short ball of RP Singh. The cut meant he sat out for the day with four stitches. Uttar Pradesh lost Eklavya Dwivedi early but Mohammed Kaif (65) and Tanmay Srivastava (62) raised half-centuries.
Brief scores: Punjab 350 all out (Mandeep 175*, RP Singh 5/72)