Mohali: Bowlers placed Punjab in sight of their second consecutive victory by restricting Himachal Pradesh to their lowest total at the PCA Stadium on Wednesday.
Despite conceding a first innings lead of 11, the hosts bundled out the visitors for just 82 on Day Two, which witnessed the fall of 19 wickets.
Once again, it was medium pace of Manpreet Gony and Love Ablish that did the damage. Gony finished with another five-wicket haul while Love got them the crucial breakthroughs by making early inroads. He finished with two for 10 from 11 overs.
Incidentally, Himachal’s previous lowest was 89 against the same opponents at Jalandhar in 1984-85, and they’d be kicking themselves for losing the initiative.
The proceedings began with Ablish removing Bhavan Thakkar in the first over of the second innings with Himachal yet to open their account. He followed it up by removing Sangram Singh for 15 and Himachal were on 24. After Paras Dogra (9) was run out following a mix up with Vinit Indulkar, the stage was set for Gony to run through the Himachal line-up. Lanky spinner Rahul Sharma also chipped in with two wickets for 25 runs. Punjab now need just 93 to complete a memorable win.
Earlier, resuming from their overnight of 24 for two, Punjab could manage 186. The pair of Vikramjeet Malik and Ashok Thakur bowled with purpose and rocked the hosts at regular intervals. Malik was once again at the forefront of Himachal’s effort and finished with figures of five for 68.
Birthday boy Uday Kaul top scored with 50 while Ablish added 32. Thakur finished with three for 53 while Jay Mehta snapped two wickets in an over.
Brief scores: Himachal 1st inn: 197 all out vs Punjab 1st inn: 186 all out (U Kaul 50, S Sohal 33; V Malik 5-68, A Thakur 3-53); Himachal 82 all out (M Gony 5-21, Rahul 2-25).