Rajkot: Captain Harbhajan Singh led from the front with an all-round effort as Punjab coasted to a comfortable 29-run win against Gujarat in the pre-quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare one-day tournament, here today.
Punjab will meet Railways in the quarter-finals. Put into bat at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground, Punjab rode fine fifties from Amitoze Singh (75), Gurkeerat Singh Mann (72) and Harbhajan (51 off 25 balls) to post a respectable 255 for eight in 50 overs.
In reply, Gujarat batsmen failed to capitalise on their starts as Punjab pace spearhead Sandeep Sharma, who bagged 3 wickets, helped bundle out the Parthiv Patel-led side for 226 in 47.3 overs. THe senior off-spinner also performed admirably with the ball taking two for 51 in his quota of 10 overs.
But it were the Punjab batsmen who made it count after opener Manan Vohra (6), No.3 Mandeep Singh (1) and two-down Yuvraj Singh (17) were out early.
Amitoze and Gurkeerat then stitched a 104-run fourth-wicket partnership to put the Punjab innings back on track. After Gurkeerat and Amitoze were out, skipper Harbhajan, who came into bat at No 6, took matters in his own hands to give the team a much-needed boost in the middle overs.
Bhajji not only registered his second List 'A' half-century but also scored at a staggering strike-rate of 204. His 25-ball knock was laced with 2 fours and 6 huge sixes.
Harbhajan not only sent the dangerous Priyank Kirit Panchal (38) back in the pavilion but also scalped Rujul Bhatt for 31, just when he was looking to get going.
In the end, batsman No.9 Rohit Dahiya gave Punjab a bit of a scare with his 60-ball 53, laced with 3 fours and 4 sixes. His ninth-wicket 53-run partnership with Mehul Patel (2) also gave Gujarat a ray of hope.