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The Hindu
The Hindu
N. Sudarshan

Ranji Trophy | Prabhsimran and Abhishek take the fight to Karnataka with a big partnership

Punjab’s Abhishek Sharma in action in the Ranji Trophy opener against Karnataka in Hubballi on Sunday. (Source: KIRAN BAKALE)

 Despite a first-rate rearguard action from Punjab’s opening duo of Abhishek Sharma (91, 123b, 9x4, 3x6) and Prabhsimran Singh (100, 146b, 17x4), Karnataka maintained the upper hand on day three of the Ranji Trophy encounter at the KSCA Rajnagar Stadium here on Sunday.

The host, from an overnight 461 for six, declared at 514 for eight, giving itself a handsome 362-run lead. Abhishek and Prabhsimran combined for 192 splendid runs only for Karnataka to hit back in the final session with three wickets. At stumps, Punjab was 238 for three, still 124 runs in the red.

As long as Abhishek and Prabhsimran were at the crease, Karnataka felt the pressure. But for the catch substitute Kishan Bedare dropped at deep backward square-leg off Abhishek (on 68 and team score at 129) to deny pacer V. Koushik a breakthrough, the home side didn’t have as much as a sniff.

Tough initiation

Under the glorious winter afternoon sunshine, the Punjab openers made merry. For the Karnataka spin combo of Rohit Kumar (debutant) and Shubhang Hegde (this being his fifth First Class match), it was a tough initiation into the responsibility of leading the attack in the absence of K. Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal.

The newbies struggled with their lengths, bowling either too full or short, and were duly carted around for 107 runs from 23 overs. Abhishek was especially severe on Rohit as one could gather from the three sixes and a four he smashed in a single over to bring up a run-a-ball half-century.

Taking on Vyshak

Prabhsimran was less flashy but as effective. Though he took a liking to Shubhang (21 runs), he reserved his best for speedster V. Vyshak. Immediately after tea, he unleashed an immaculate cut and two sumptuous drives to move into the 90s. A swept four off part-timer R. Samarth and a nudged single brought him his fourth First Class ton.

But the very next ball, Samarth castled Abhishek, with the southpaw completely missing the line. Four deliveries later, Vidwath Kaverappa breached Prabhsimran’s defence to land the visitor a double blow. A fine catch running backwards from mid-on by Rohit to send back Naman Dhir ensured that Karnataka was still in control.

The scores:

Punjab — 1st innings: 152.

Karnataka — 1st innings: R. Samarth b Dutta 38, Mayank Agarwal c Dhir b Arshdeep 0, Devdutt Padikkal c Baltej b Dutta 193, Nikin Jose lbw b Dhir 8, Manish Pandey c Abhishek b Arshdeep 118, Sharath Srinivas lbw b Kaul 76, Shubhang Hegde c Mandeep b Dhir 27, V. Vyshak lbw b Arshdeep 19, Rohit Kumar (not out) 22, Vidwath Kaverappa (not out) 4; Extras (lb-7, w-1, nb-1): 9; Total (for eight wkts. decl. in 140 overs): 514.

Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-92, 3-110, 4-344, 5-382, 6-441, 7-466, 8-508

Punjab bowling: Baltej 25-4-63-0, Arshdeep 28-1-92-3, Kaul 22-0-94-1, Dutta 22-1-84-2, Dhir 12-1-46-2, Markande 22-1-82-0, Abhishek 9-0-46-0.

Punjab — 2nd innings: Abhishek Sharma b Samarth 91, Prabhsimran Singh b Kaverappa 100, Naman Dhir c Rohit b Shubhang 20, Mandeep Singh (batting) 15, Nehal Wadhera (batting) 9; Extras (lb-2, nb-1): 3; Total (for three wkts. in 68 overs): 238.

Fall of wickets: 1-192, 2-192, 3-220.

Karnataka bowling: Kaverappa 13-3-28-1, Koushik 14-4-37-0, Vyshak 11-1-52-0, Rohit 10-0-53-0, Shubhang 13-1-54-1, Samarth 7-2-12-1.

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