Chandigarh, January 31
A fine batting by Saurashtra’s Parth Bhut turned out to be a nightmare for Punjab bowlers on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy match played at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium. Bhut came up with an unbeaten 111 runs to help the hosts score 303 runs. His timely ton came at a time when Saurashtra’s batting line-up was having a tough time facing the Punjab attack.
The host skipper AV Vasavada won the toss and opted to bat. The side opened with H Desai and Snell Patel, but Baltej Singh gave Punjab a desired start by claiming the former before he could open his account. Patel was then joined by Vishvarajsinh Jadeja and the duo tried to stable the innings. In the process, they raised a 77-run partnership, but Mayank Markande took the charge and accounted for Jadeja (28 off 66 balls, with two boundaries and one six). Sheldon Jackson (18) also failed to pressure the Punjab bowlers as he fell prey to Baltej, while skipper Vasavada was also sent back to the pavilion by Markande for a duck.
The Punjab bowlers got another shot as Siddharth Kaul accounted for Chirah Jani (8) and DA Jadeja (12), while Markande claimed Prerak Mankad (5) to reduce the hosts at 147/7. Patel, who was holding on to the one end, also went down to pressure as Markande accounted his wicket for 70 off 131 balls, with 11 boundaries.
However, Bhut then turned the tables for the hosts. He raised two important partnerships with Chetan Sakariya and Yuvrajsinh Dodiya to help the side claim a respectable total. Bhut and Sakariya raised a 61-run partnership for the 9th wicket to help the side go past the 200-mark. The duo was well settled, but Naman Dhir bowled out Sakariya for 22 (off 49 balls, with one six) to put Punjab back on track. As things were looking easy now, Punjab bowlers against faced some reissuance as Bhut and Dodiya raised a 95-run partnership for the 10 wicket. Baltej, once again, brought the much-needed break for Punjab as he accounted for Dodiya. The batsman scored 17 off 50 balls, with three boundaries. Bhut remained unbeaten for 111 off 155 balls, with 11 boundaries and four sixes. Markande accounted for 4/84, while Baltej returned with 3/60. Kaul claimed 2/81 and Dhir grabbed 1/8 for the bowling side.
In reply, Punjab openers Prabhsimran Singh (2) and Dhir (1) scored three for no loss, at the draw of the stumps.