When Prabhsimran Singh and Naman Dhir walked out to bat on Wednesday morning, they decided not to think far ahead. Rather, the Punjab openers believed that it would be ideal to take it session by session and play to the merit of the ball.
On the first day, Saurashtra put up 303 on the board in its first innings, and resuming the proceedings at 3-0, Punjab needed a head start. While Dhir took a bit of time to settle in, Prabhsimran hit a few boundaries early on, to build the pressure. The strategy worked as the two forged a 212-run partnership for the opening wicket as Saurashtra bowlers struggled in the first session.
While there were no demons on the pitch, Prabhsimran and Dhir did not want to rush things. “When we were batting, we did not think too much. We did not even think how much should the partnership be, but the idea was to play to the merit of the ball and the rest fell in place,” Prabhsimran told Sportstar after the day’s play.
Riding on their centuries, Punjab surged ahead and took a slender 24-run lead in the first innings even though three wickets fell in the third session. But earlier in the day, both Prabhsimran and Dhir had made sure that they communicated well.
“Our conversations revolved around how we should keep a positive approach and play our shots. We did not want to complicate things and just focus on one delivery at a time,” Dhir said.
For both Dhir and Prabhsimran, this was the second century of the season and after a string of low scores, they knew that there was an opportunity to make things count. “We talked among ourselves that we should keep our intent right and that helped us. We kept communicating well and things went smoothly thereafter. We decided that if any of us thought that something should be done differently on this surface, we would immediately inform the other batter and plan accordingly. This approach helped,” Prabhsimran said.
The 22-year-old Prabhsimran started his Ranji Trophy campaign this season with a 202 against Chandigarh and scored 55 against Tripura in the third game. Thereafter, he had scores of 43, 4, 20, 31, and 13. But he brought up his third first-class century when it mattered the most for his team.
While he was happy to have added another century to his tally, Prabhsimran was disappointed to have been dismissed on 126. Attempting a slog sweep, Prabhsimran got a top edge, and Chetan Sakariya made no mistake at the long on.
“You don’t get such opportunities too often. I got out at 126, but I feel that I could have extended the innings. This is learning and I will work on this aspect, going forward,” he said, adding that he never thinks too much about his past innings.
“I did not think about carrying it forward from 200. For me, every game is a new opportunity, so my idea is always to give my best efforts. At times you are successful, while there are times when things don’t go your way…”
And when runs had dried up, Prabhsimran stuck to his basics and spent more time in the nets. It was a similar approach for Dhir, too.
“I had confidence because I had good net sessions. I came in with positive intent and that certainly boosted my confidence,” he said.
Shortly after tea, Dhir tried to clear a Dharmendrasinh Jadeja delivery over the long-on boundary but mistimed it. Yuvrajsinh Dodiya, stationed at the fence, dashed to his right to collect the catch on the run.
“I realised that I mistimed the ball. When I came back to the pavilion, I thought that I should not have played that shot at that juncture of the game. Obviously, it was a very good catch. But at the same time, it was a poor shot,” he rued.
With three days remaining, Punjab enjoys the upper hand for now, and both Dhir and Prabhsimran would hope that their efforts ultimately benefit the team in making it to the semifinals.