Jaskaran Singh, the sturdy Punjab all-rounder, wondered if a helmet could fit on his turban as he led his side’s chase into top gear.
The batsman at the other end suggested he try his, but Jaskaran decided against it and went on a rampage, smashing Joginder Sharma to all corners of the park.
Just when Punjab were sniffing at an improbable victory, disaster struck. Sharma sent down an above-the-waist full toss, and Jaskaran shaped up for a ferocious pull. The ball rose sharply after landing and struck Jaskaran’s face, leaving him flat on the ground and had to be carried off. He was batting on 28.
With his departure, Punjab’s hopes of chasing down the imposing 291 set by Haryana also faded away.
The remaining three wickets couldn’t hold their nerves in the high-pressure situation, and ran themselves out to leave the team three runs short of what would have been an amazing victory in their first match in the North Zone one-day tournament.
But before Jaskaran unleashed his astonishing assault (15-ball 28) it was a 141-run partnership between opener Ravi Inder Singh and Turuwar Kohli for the fifth wicket that brought Punjab back into the game.
The duo came together when they had lost four wickets with just 67 on the board and Haryana had begun to tighten their grip on the match.
The duo didn’t let pressure get to them and kept the scorecard moving with singles and occasional boundaries.
As they grew in confidence, the runs started coming. Ravi Inder raced to his hundred (106) and Kohli (58) completed a stylish half-century.
Just when the duo looked set to take Punjab home, Haryana struck by first removing Kohli and then Ravi Inder. With Punjab still needing close to 60 runs, the stage was set for Jaskaran’s late assault.
Earlier, Haryana made good use of the initial Powerplay and the slog overs to post a daunting 290.
The innings was held together by Sumit Sharma’s 84 with the others chipping in with useful contributions. What helped their cause was some sloppy and unenergetic fielding by Punjab.
Eventually, it cost them the match.