Ranji Trophy: Gill century headlines thrilling draw

Shubman Gill almost pulled off a win as Punjab fell short by 14 runs chasing Hyderabad's target of 338.

Shubman Gill after reaching his century in Punjab's clash against Hyderabad.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

Punjab was staring at an improbable win thanks to a brilliant century by exciting talent, Shubman Gill (148, 154b, 18x4, 2x6). But, Hyderabad fast bowler Mohammed Siraj reserved his best for the final overs to finish off with a four-wicket haul and ensure a draw in the four-day Ranji Trophy Group-B match at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Tuesday.

Chasing an imposing target of 338 in 57 overs, Punjab fell short of the target by 14 runs in an exciting finish to the match.

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Once the first spells from the pace duo of Siraj and T. Ravi Teja were seen off (they clearly missed the injured strike bowler Ravi Kiran on the final day), the strokes started flowing with lot more ease and regularity, particularly from the elegant Shubman.

Serving a reminder of his growing stature, the Punjab opener almost pulled it off singlehandedly with a perfect mix of aggression and compact technique against both pace and spin.

With the well-set Shubman and captain Mandeep Singh at the crease, Punjab needed 110 runs from the last 15 overs.

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But, Siraj came back strongly to force Mandeep pull to the fielder in the deep and then struck the most decisive blow - luring Shubman into a lofted stroke only to be caught brilliantly by Akshath Reddy.

After the fall of Mandeep and Shubman, pacer Manpreet Gony played the big shots but with Siraj chipping away at regular intervals, Punjab lost the momentum in the final overs and had to settle for a draw.

Earlier in the morning session, Hyderabad captain Akshath scored an unbeaten 161, his 14th first-class century, to help the team declare at 323 for three.

Brief score: At Hyderabad: Hyderabad 317 & 323 for three decl. in 86 overs (Tanmay Agarwal 54, Akshath Reddy 161 n.o., Bavanaka Sandeep 48) drew with Punjab 303 & 324 for eight in 57 overs (Shubman Gill 148, Anmolpreet Singh 40, Mandeep Singh 41, Mohammed Siraj four for 71); Points: Hyderabad 3(16), Punjab 1(13).