Punjab captain Harbhajan Singh made a superb return to competitive cricket as he smashed 92 off only 80 balls to rescue his team from a precarious position against an impressive Jammu and Kashmir bowling attack on the first day of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final in Vadodara on Wednesday.
Punjab finished with 304 in their first innings as Harbhajan and No 9 batsman Sandeep Sharma (51) added an invaluable 105 runs for the eighth wicket after J&K seam trio of Samiullah Beigh (2/56), Ram Dayal (3/59) and Umar Nazir (4/66) reduced them to 146 for seven. At stumps, J&K were 11 for one after opener Obaid Haroon (4) edged one from Sandeep to wicketkeeper Gitansh Khera.
Using the helpful conditions, J&K bowlers --- especially seamer Dayal, caused a lot of discomfort for Punjab's top-order batsmen including Yuvraj Singh (10) but the experienced Punjab team finally wriggled out of trouble. Coming back after a shoulder niggle that kept him out for more than six weeks, Harbhajan clobbered eight fours and six sixes in his 80-ball knock before he was out trying to slog sweep opposite number Parveez Rasool over short fine-leg.