Manan Vohra’s splendid consistency this season continued against Tamil Nadu as he laid the foundation for Punjab to finish the opening day of the Ranji Trophy match at 241 for the loss of six wickets at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here on Monday. His strokeful 73 was the highlight of the day when bowlers had a battle at hand despite initial support from the pitch.
Tamil Nadu may have erred in pitching it short as the bowlers looked to generate extra pace. The Punjab openers, Vohra and Jiwanjot Singh, stood up to the challenge and gave a good demonstration of their technique. The sound of the ball hitting the ball was sound and definite as the contest assumed an intensity that marked the day’s cricket.
The ball did beat the bat, at times took the edge too, but Vohra and Jiwanjot complemented each other. Jiwanjot, ever the traditional batsman, chose to dig and play the waiting game, but Vohra gave vent to his flair to play his shots. They came in all directions but his back foot punch was the most dominant and productive way of taming the attack.
“We had to keep it tight. They were attacking us initially and we looked to put pressure since they were scoring through boundaries. The idea was to make them play on the front foot,” said K. Vignesh, who bowled 22 overs to make an impression on the opposition with three wickets to his credit. “It’s not easy to get wickets on this pitch. You have to persist.”
The harder Tamil Nadu tried, the better Vohra tackled the bowlers. His positive approach worked well for the team after Tamil Nadu failed to exploit the advantage of bowling first. Runs accrued fluently, but a break for a ball change impacted Jiwanjot’s concentration. On resumption, he poked the ball gingerly and ended up getting a thick edge.
“The bounce was spongy and one had to be alert. The ball was seaming too. I just looked to play the ball close to the body. It was important to keep going because on such a pitch you can encounter a good ball anytime. I should have done better though,” said Vohra on his sweet innings.
From a comfortable 97 for no loss, Punjab slipped to 107 for three as Vohra and Mandeep Singh, playing only his third match, fell in succession to Vignesh, easily the pick of the bowlers today. Vignesh hustled Vohra into picking a wrong line and foxed Mandeep in a similar fashion with the two wickets falling in the same over.
Punjab now looked to up to Uday Kaul, the left-handed veteran of 11 seasons. Kaul knew the job well, disciplined as he is in such situations. However, his 162-ball vigil with five fours met a premature end from a run out.
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