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Punjab on course for title

By Our Special Correspondent

DHARAMSHALA, JAN. 11. Delhi suffered a 66-run defeat against Punjab at the cricket stadium here on Tuesday. The victory put Punjab on course to win the title in the North Zone Ranji one-day league following its second win in as many matches.

Ricky's century and Gagandeep Singh's four-wicket haul flattened Delhi, which also conceded a bonus point. "It hurts," conceded Delhi captain Ajay Jadeja while Punjab skipper Dinesh Mongia gave credit to Ricky and Gagandeep.

It was not an ideal pitch to bat freely on, but once Ricky gauged the pace and bounce he produced a professional performance. His knock included nine fours and four sixes.

"Nothing worked for us. We fielded poorly but came back strongly but ultimately we were outplayed. We didn't bat well at all," lamented Jadeja. "It was a big game for us and we were looking at a total of 200-plus since this was not a good pitch to bat in the latter half. We won an important toss and I must say it was a satisfying win. Beating Delhi is always special and then we won a bonus point too," said Mongia.

After a confident start, with runs flowing smoothly, a tall score looked on the cards. But Ashish Nehra hit back when he packed off Reetender Singh Sodhi and Yuvraj Singh. Punjab lost three quick wickets even as Ricky continued to plough. Pankaj Dharmani jumped out while Gaurav Gupta was beaten by Mithun Manhas' direct throw. When Mongia was foxed by a ball that stopped Punjab was in a miserable state but Ricky came to its rescue.

Sensible bowling

Off-spinner Yogesh Sachdeva stood out for Delhi with his sensible bowling while Nehra played his part well by scalping three important wickets. While batting Delhi never looked like making a fight of it after it lost openers Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan cheaply. The reliable Manhas drove away from the body and Jadeja was trapped plumb as Gagandeep, seaming and moving the ball splendidly, played havoc.

The scores: Punjab: R. Ricky (not out) 124, R.S. Sodhi c Nanda b Nehra 18, Yuvraj Singh lbw b Nehra 16, P. Dharmani b Bhatia 7, G. Gupta (run out) 2, D. Mongia c Dhawan b Sachdeva 1, V. Sharma c Varun b Nehra 12, Harbhajan Singh c Varun b Bhandari 24, A. Uniyal c Jadeja b Bhandari 9, Gagandeep Singh (run out) 10; Extras (w-2) 2; Total (for nine wkts in 50 overs): 225.

Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2-56, 3-76, 4-89, 5-91, 6-124, 7-167, 8-194, 9-225.

Delhi bowling: Nehra 10-0-36-3, Bhandari 10-0-59-2, Bhatia 7-0-44-1, Sachdeva 10-1-34-1, Nanda 8-0-33-0, Manhas 4-0-17-0, Jadeja 1-0-2-0.

Delhi: G. Gambhir c Gupta b Gagandeep 3, S. Dhawan lbw b Gagandeep 13, M. Manhas c Dharmani b Gagandeep 4, A. Jadeja lbw b Gagandeep 10, R. Gupta c and b Vipul 32, R. Bhatia c Mongia b Yuvraj 28, V. Kumar st Dharmani b Mongia 33, A. Nehra st Dharmani b Vipul 6, C. Nanda (run out) 1, A. Bhandari c V.R.V. Singh b Vipul 5, Y. Sachdeva (not out) 5; Extras (lb-6, nb-5, w-8): 19; Total (in 47.5 overs): 159.

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-16, 3-41, 4-42, 5-85, 6-133, 7-141, 8-142, 9-154.

Punjab bowling: Gagandeep Singh 9-4-15-4, V.R.V. Singh 6-1-26-0, Sodhi 5-0-25-0, Harbhajan 6-0-24-0, Vipul Sharma 7.5-1-31-3, Mongia 9-0-14-1, Yuvraj 5-0-18-1.

At Hamirpur: Haryana 86 in 33.5 overs (Thakur four for 15, Sangram Singh three for 16) lost to Himachal Pradesh 87 for six wkts. in 16.4 overs (P. Dogra 35 not out, Rana three for 33).

At Una: Services 260 for seven in 50 overs (Yashpal Singh 88, Narinder Singh 76) beat Jammu and Kashmir 196 in 50 overs (Dhruv Mahajan 80, Sudhakar Ghag four for 24, Munish Jha three for 30).

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