Ranji Trophy: Punjab eyes big lead

Fast bowler Sandeep Sharma and captain Yuvraj Singh helped Punjab dominate the second day of the Ranji Trophy Group At tie against Uttar Pradesh at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Sunday.

Yuvraj Singh was unbeaten on 72 at close of play on Day Two.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

Fast bowler Sandeep Sharma and captain Yuvraj Singh helped Punjab dominate the second day of the Ranji Trophy Group At tie against Uttar Pradesh (UP) on Sunday.

> Scorecard

Sandeep returned with a five-wicket haul to clean up the opposition lower-order cheaply in the morning session, and in the last session of the day captain Yuvraj lit up the proceedings with some extravagant stroke play at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad.

Earlier, resuming 300 for six, the UP innings lasted 14.5 overs with an addition of just 35 runs. Sandeep ensured that the tail did not wag really.

In reply, Punjab finished at 244 for three at close of play.

Punjab’s foundation was laid by a century partnership between openers Manan Vohra (59, 108b, 7 x 4, 1 x 6) and Jiwanjot Singh (62, 123b, 8 x 4). The two played sensibly, warding off the new-ball threat with cautious display. Though seamer Imtiaz Ahmed troubled Jiwanjot early, the batsman showed the desired tenacity to come out of that spell and later played some pleasing strokes on either side of the wicket.

It was the left-arm spin of Saurabh Kumar which gave UP a chance to mount a comeback. First, he trapped Jiwanjot lbw with one that spun back into him, a decision with which the batsman was apparently not pleased.

Soon, the left-armer lured a well-set Manan Vohra into a backfoot drive but Vohra ended up giving a simple return catch.

Yuvraj in business

Two quick blows saw the arrival of Yuvraj, and he meant business straightaway. He hit the first two balls he faced from Saurabh to the fence. Later, he turned his attention to the other left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav and pacer Ankit Rajpoot hitting them with élan to the fence.

In the company of another southpaw, Uday Kaul, Yuvraj put on 97 runs for the third wicket which pushed UP on the defensive.

In the final session, UP was unfortunate to see Yuvraj dropped twice - by the same fielder, Umang Sharma, at lone slip. First, he was dropped off Saurabh when on 44, and then again off pacer Ankit Rajpoot when on 70.