Mohali/Chandigarh: Three cricketers looking to make a comeback into the Indian team shone with the bat on Friday in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy tournament. While Punjab skipper Harbhajan Singh promoted himself to No.3 position and smashed a 50-ball 78, Delhi openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag (49) once again sizzled with the bat, putting on a 96-ball 121-run stand for the opening wicket to set the platform for their team's win
In an unusual but successful move, skipper Harbhajan Singh promoted himself to No.3 position and smashed a 50-ball 78, thus playing a pivotal role in Punjab's nine-run win over Services in a North Zone leg match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy in Mohail on Friday.
(From left) Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh. File Pic/AFP
While Harbhajan was the top scorer, Himanshu Chawla also hit a quickfire 50 off 34 balls as they enabled Punjab reach a competitive total of 154 for six in their allotted 20 overs.
The hosts then restricted Services to 145 for nine, thanks to leg-spinner Rahul Sharma's impressive bowling figures of 4-0-21-4 and some great work on the field that resulted in three run-outs.
Electing to bat, Punjab lost openers Manan Vohra (5) and Mandeep Singh (0) and Gurkeerat Singh (5) cheaply to be reeling at 35 for three in 6.6 overs, before Harbhajan and Himanshu steadied the boat.
The duo put on a solid 99-run stand for the fourth wicket to bail the team out and steer it towards a respectable total.
Harbhajan's impressive knock included nine fours and four sixes, while Himanshu's innings had five boundaries and a maximum.
In reply, Services had a poor start as they lost as many as four wickets for just 34 runs on the board.
It was captain Yashpal Singh (24) and Soumya Swain (46) who consolidated the position and stitched 67 runs together for the fifth wicket to keep Services' hopes alive.
But just when things were starting to look promising for Services, Rahul Sharma struck to see off Yashpal. And even though Swain continued to slog in the middle, three successive batsmen -- Avishek Sinha (10), Suraj Yadav (10) and Shadab Nazar (10) -- were all run out.
In the end, Services fell short.
Gautam Gambhir led from the front with a breezy unbeaten 75 as Delhi cruised to a nine-wicket win over Haryana to record their fourth straight victory in a North Zone leg match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy in Chandigarh on Friday.
Set a target of 141 runs by Haryana, star pair of Gambhir and Virender Sehwag (49) once again sizzled with the bat for Delhi, putting on a 96-ball 121-run stand for the opening wicket to set the platform for the win here.
While Sehwag's was an unusually sedate knock, Gambhir was at his attacking best.
Gambhir's runs came off 53 balls during which he struck seven boundaries and three sixes. Sehwag, on the other hand, played second fiddle and hit just three fours and one six during his 50-ball knock.
Sehwag was the lone Delhi wicket to fall, bowled by right-arm pacer Harshal Patel in the 16th over.
After Sehwag's dismissal, Gambhir and Unmukt Chand (7 not out) ensured the win for Delhi with 15 balls to spare without any further damage.
Earlier, Haryana rode on half centuries from opener Avi Barot (51 off 42) and Guntashveer Singh (64 off 49) to post 140 for seven after opting to bat.
Apart from Barot and Guntashveer, no other Haryana batsmen could manage double digit scores. The duo scored 103 runs for the second wicket to propel Haryana to the modest score.
The lanky Ishant Sharma was the pick of the bowlers for Delhi with figures of four for nine from his quota of four overs.
Brief scores: Punjab: 154 for six (Harbhajan Singh 78, Himanshu Chawla 50; Arnav Kush 2/37). Services: 145 for nine (Soumya Swain 46, Yashpal Singh 24; Rahul Sharma 4/21).
Haryana: 140 for seven in 20 overs (Guntashveer Singh 64, Avi Barot 51; Ishant Sharma 4/9). Delhi: 142 for one in 17.3 overs (Gautam Gambhir 75 not out, Virender Sehwag 49; Harshal Patel 1/32).