Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Kaul's hat-trick helps Punjab take first innings lead

Punjab rode on its all round efficiency on a day of lively cricket when 24 wickets fell, to nose ahead of Andhra Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy fixture.

Siddharth Kaul celebrates the fall of a Andhra wicket in Patiala on Tuesday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Host Punjab rode on its all round efficiency on a day of lively cricket when 24 wickets fell, to nose ahead of Andhra Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy Group-A Elite league match at the Dhruv Pandove Stadium here on Tuesday.

Except for the moist morning in wintry conditions, it was a warm and bright day, and the pitch with a bit of variable bounce tested the technique and temperament of the batsmen.

Bravely opting to bat, Andhra Pradesh was precariously placed, when it lost four wickets for 16 runs. Punjab had read the pitch accurately and opened with spinner Vinay Choudhary who finished the day with six wickets — three in each innings.

Stumps fly

But the key to the Punjab charge lay in the hands of medium-pacer Siddharth Kaul, who bagged five wickets in the first innings and wound up the Andhra innings with a hat-trick, letting the stumps fly of K.V. Sasikanth, who hit two sixes in his 20, Swaroop Kumar and S. Ashish.

Kaul, bowling with rhythm and energy, had control and variation. He had the Andhra batsmen hopping, much to the delight of the sparse gathering which was mostly school and college students.

Shoaib, Ashish sizzle

Andhra was all out for 97 immediately after lunch, but showed great character to restrict Punjab to 108, a lead of just 11 runs, thanks to the incisive spell by off-spinner Shoaib Mohammed Khan and left-arm spinner S. Ashish, who bagged five wickets each.

Skipper Mandeep Singh was the top scorer for Punjab with 23, while wicketkeeper Anmol Malhotra contributed 21 that ensured the lead.

However, Andhra looked to have lost control once again when it was reduced to 31 for four in its second innings.

Andhra, the group leader, has to show more courage and fight, with a more meaningful approach on the second day.

Punjab may be in the driver’s seat, but the match is still delicately poised.

The scores

Andhra Pradesh first innings 97 (B Sumanth 22; Kaul 5-24) & 31-4 (Pranith 13; Vinay 3-11) vs Punjab 108 (Mandeep Singh 23; Ashish 5-50, Shoaib 5-46)

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