CHANDIGARH: Captain Mandeep Singh led from the front with a blistering half century after pacers Siddharth Kaul and Barinder Sran shared seven wickets between them to help Punjab thrash Andhra Pradesh by seven wickets in a Group B game, and register their first victory in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy in Indore on Wednesday.
Electing to field on winning the toss, Punjab looked determined to overcome the losses in the first two games. Punjab’s pace battery comprising the experienced trio of Kaul, Sran and Sandeep Sharma was completely charged up and was complemented well by the spin duo of Mayank Markande and Harpreet Brar, that helped the side skittle the opposition for a meager 175 in 48.1 overs.
While Kaul (4/27) and Sran (3/29) started off the demolition job with the wickets of the Andhra openers Ashwin Hebbar for a duck and Kranthi Kumar (25), respectively, skipper Hanuma Vihari (2) also fell prey to Kaul after nicking one behind to stumper Anmol Malhotra.
Reduced to 52/3, leg-spinner Markande (2/35) joined the party with back to back wickets of Andhra top scorer Nitish Kumar Reddy (30 off 49 balls, 4X4) and stumper Ricky Bhui for a 41-ball 21, laced with two hits to the fence. Left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar made life difficult for Shoaib Md Khan (10) to further dent Andhra to 109 for 6.
The pacers came back for a second spell and Sran first got rid of Girinath Reddy (10) and Harishankar Reddy (0) in a span of three balls, before Kaul ended Karan Shinde’s stiff resistance, that saw him getting to a decent 27 off 39 balls, but ensured that the side reach to the 150-run mark.
The Andhra tail wagged a bit as last man Cheepurapalli Stephen (4 not out) added 25 runs with S Ashish, who scored a 34-ball 23, laced with three boundaries before falling prey to Kaul, and also ending the team’s innings.
In reply, Abhishek Sharma and Prabhsimran Singh gave a decent 59-run start to the side, before Sharma fell for a 44-ball 32, powered by three fours and a six, to Shoaib. Prabhsimran, however, continued and added 30 runs with his skipper Mandeep Singh (64 not out of 81balls; 4X8), who had by then got his eyes in.
But as the duo threatened to take the game away from the clutches of the Andhra side, Harishankar Reddy struck with the scalp of Prabhsimran, who departed for an identical 32 as his fellow opener.
Mandeep, meanwhile, carried on and played himself according to the situation but lost his new partner Gurkeeran Singh Mann (16) after a brief 24-run third wicket stand between them started to flourish. Reduced to 113/3, Punjab were in a spot of bother, but the captain seemed on a mission and started opening up as he found a perfect second fiddle in Sanvir Singh, who matched him stroke by stroke.
There was no looking back for the duo from there on, as Mandeep got to his 24th List A half century and Sanvir looked equally promising, dealing only in sixes during his 30-ball 38, that helped Punjab cross the line with 14 overs to spare.
For the Andhra side, Shoaib was the pick of the bowlers, returning with figures of 2/38 while Harishankar Reddy bagged one.
Andhra 175 all out in 48.1 overs: Nitish Kumar Reddy 30, Karan Shinde 27, Kranthi Kumar 25; Siddharth Kaul 4/27, Barinder Sran 3/29
Punjab 176/3 in 36 overs: Mandeep Singh 64 not out, Abhishek Sharma 32, Prabhsimran Singh 32; Shoaib Md Khan 2/38