Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Punjab beats Andhra in two-day thriller

Anmol Malhotra pulled Punjab out of trouble and took it to a four-wicket victory over group leader Andhra Pradesh on the second day of the Ranji Trophy elite league match.

Jubilant players of Punjab team after beating Andhra in a Ranji Trophy clash.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Bright behind the wickets and brilliant with the bat, Anmol Malhotra pulled Punjab out of trouble and took it to a four-wicket victory over group leader Andhra Pradesh on the second day of the Ranji Trophy elite league match at the Dhruv Pandove Stadium here on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Anmol took four catches in the second innings, as Punjab bowled out Andhra for 131. More importantly, Anmol smashed a fluent 51, striking a six and four boundaries, after Punjab was looking down the barrel at 32 for five in the second innings, chasing a modest total of 124.

Together with Abhishek Gupta, who hit 37 with two fours and a six, Anmol put on 69 runs for the sixth wicket that ensured victory for Punjab, and six points from the match.

For his all-round performance, Anmol was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match. Taking the spotlight is nothing new for Anmol, after having scored an unbeaten century in the last match against Gujarat.

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Earlier, Andhra's hopes of a battle were revived by skipper Ricky Bhui who struck 61 and put up 94 runs for the eighth wicket with K.V. Sasikanth (47), after the team had slipped to 36 for seven in the morning, losing three quick wickets on resumption.

Vinay Choudhary bagged six wickets and Mayank Markande broke Andhra's resistance with four wickets to keep Punjab in the driver's seat.

Once the Andhra skipper was caught down the leg side by the wicketkeeper, with the umpire taking a few seconds to signal the dismissal, the innings folded soon. Andhra made a valiant fightback thanks to the probing bowling by off-spinner Shoaib Ahmed Khan and left-arm spinner S. Ashish.

The variable bounce made it quite tricky for the batsmen, but Anmol and Abhishek were quite composed in dealing with the situation, and delivering the final blow, much to the delight of the home crowd.

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