Despite all the talk about how the Patiala pitch could be a raging turner for the crucial Elite A match between Punjab and Bengal here, it turned out to be a surface that assisted pacers and spinners.
The Patiala weather at this time of the year has often been a cause for little shiver, the hands are cold and senses dulled. But on Wednesday morning, it was left-arm spinner Vinay Choudhary who sent shivers down the Bengal batting line-up with figures of six for 54.
"There weren't any demons in this pitch. Bowlers were rewarded for bowling in the right channels," said Punjab coach Munish Bali after the match. "Baltej got his wickets with bounce and swing while Vinay (Choudhary) got his by bowling the armers.
"There's a difference between an underprepared wicket and a turning track. This surface became good for batting as the day progressed. We would've bowled first had we won the toss."
The Punjab players today resorted to strong, vociferous appeals, seemingly to put pressure on the batsmen and the umpires, who to their credit did not get swayed. Bali put down the appealing to youthful exuberance.
"It's a young side ... Except Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Mann and Siddarth Kaul, most boys are playing their first season, and it's a crucial match for us," he said.
"The appealing was just them expressing their nervous energy, there was no such plan to put the opposition batsmen under pressure by going up for a wicket every other ball. It's a side that's keen to learn, keen to do and keen to win."
Bali also expressed delight at Punjab's performance in the 2019-20 domestic season. "Punjab had been struggling in domestic T20s, ODIs and four-day matches for the last three years but this season, we could qualify for Ranji quarterfinals and we fared well in Vijay Hazare (quarters) and Syed Mushtaq Ali (T20). The transformation is there for everyone to see," he said.
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