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Punjab vs J&K: Consistent Mongia does it again

You can take a man out of international cricket but you cannot take an international cricketer out of a man. If not on Dinesh Mongia, then it is hard to envisage this maxim befit any other player so perfectly.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 01:34 IST

You can take a man out of international cricket but you cannot take an international cricketer out of a man. If not on Dinesh Mongia, then it is hard to envisage this maxim befit any other player so perfectly. Having sent myriad reminders of his towering presence to the National selectors, most of them in futility, Mongia is now unperturbed by their indifference. All he demands at the moment is equanimity and solitude, and just wants to enjoy his cricket, the reason he claims he picked up a cricket bat in the first place in his adolescence.

And enjoy he did on Tuesday, unabatedly too, but in the process, hell blinked for the unfortunate bowlers of once 'paradise on earth'. The Punjab skipper led from the front, scoring a superlative century as his team registered a facile 76-run victory over Jammu and Kashmir at Harbaksh Stadium. And now it has virtually sealed its qualification from the North Zone.

Although southpaw Uday Kaul did steal his more-celebrated partner's thunder to an extent, by scoring a century on his ODI debut, it was the Punjab skipper's knock that delighted the connoisseurs sitting on the sidelines. In fact, Mongia hardly put a foot wrong throughout the match --- not exactly though, as he sat out the second innings due to stiffness --- right from the moment he correctly gauged the flip of the coin until the time he was dismissed going for a big heave.

The vociferous clamour that erupted after the early loss of opener Ravneet Ricky from the J&K players' throats soon ebbed as Mongia and Kaul ran amok, tearing the J&K bowling to pieces. Mongia, particularly, was in a ruthless mood and hardly wanted to exert himself. So he decided to deal only in boundaries and his half-century was punctuated by 11 hits to the fence.

Meanwhile, Kaul's approach was in stark contrast to Mongia's cavalier one but no less effective, as the slender southpaw used more discretion to pace his innings. The J&K bowlers soon found their little confidence waning as the duo completed their respective centuries. Finally, in their bid to accelerate the scoring, the centurions were dismissed, Mongia on 159 and Kaul on 105. Punjab posed a daunting 327 for three in their stipulated 50 overs.

The task of chasing the target was always going to prove a bridge too far for the J&K batters. However, middle-order batsman Kawaljeet Singh ensured that Punjab did not enjoy a rout by scoring an unbeaten, defiant 106.

However, such somnolent was their modus operandi to defy Punjab that handful of spectators that had turned up for the match started looking for other ways to relieve themselves from the ennui. Gagandeep Singh looked the only Punjab bowler worth his billing, only with the new ball, as others were fairly innocuous. J&K finished their innings at 251 for seven.

SCOREBOARD

Punjab (Ricky c Inderjeet b Imtiyaz 15, Kaul c Wani b Shashi 105, Mongia stumped Vivek b Khajuria 159, Dharmani not out 24, Sodhi not out 6; Extras -- w-13, lb-2, nb-3 -- 18).

Total: 327 for 3 in 50 overs.

FoW: 1-22, 2-280, 3-310.

Bowling: Nabi 10-0-64-1, Imtiyaz 8-0-50-1, Inderjeet 10-0-56-1, Dutta 4-0-38-0, Khajuria 10-0-62-1, Shashi 6-0-41-1, Mahajan 1-0-9-0, Kawaljeet 1-0-5-0.

Jammu and Kashmir: Wani c Dharmani b Gagandeep 2, Vivek lbw VRV 35, Bhatt lbw Gagandeep 9, Kawaljit not out 106, Mahajan lbw Malhotra 29, Goswami c Uniyal b Sawal 5, Inderjeet not out 35; Extras -- w-24, lb-5, b-1 -- 30).

Total: 251 for 5 in 50 overs.

FoW: 1-3, 2-15, 3-76, 4-136, 5-146.

Bowling: Gagandeep 8-1-42-2, VRV 8-0-35-1, Uniyal 5-0-27-0, Sharma 6-1-19-0, Malhotra 10-0-56-1, Sawalm 10-0-52-1, Sodhi 3-0-15-0.