Uday Kaul and Rahul Sharma batted with confidence to take the Ranji Trophy Elite Group A game away from Railways here on Thursday.
Punjab took full advantage of some ordinary bowling as Kaul resumed his careful strokeplay. His partner, Taruwar Kohli, was dismissed early by a full delivery from M. Suresh but it had no effect on Kaul as he kept rotating the strike and punishing the short ones. He was ably supported by Vishvas Bhalla.
The hosts’ spin-oriented attack bore no fruit and the outside-off line was negotiated with ease as Kaul reached his century in the 114th over. Soon after, he perished swinging across the line in a bid to accelerate the scoring.
Kaul was replaced in the middle by Rahul Sharma, the star of the Punjab bowling in the first innings. Sharma continued his good form in the game and made his aggressive intent clear. The 23-year-old targeted the mid-wicket region from the beginning and smacked Karan Sharma for two lusty blows in an over. He displayed a range of shots and there was a cover drive and two straight drives in an over from Krishnakant Upadhyay. Sharma reached his half-century at a strike rate of close to 100.
Love Ablish at the other end was reduced to being a spectator as Sharma hit all the bowlers used by Murali Kartik. Upadhyay eventually got him with a ball that kept low and uprooted the middle stump.
Railways’ fielding was sloppy once again. Kaul was dropped on 59 by Kartik off Updhyay and debutant Rahul Deb failed to stump him when the batsman was on 105.
Railways finally dismissed Punjab for 401 after the visitors had taken a commanding lead of 125 runs. At stumps, the hosts were struggling at 16 for 1.