Harbhajan Singh made a rousing start to his Ranji Trophy season with a six wicket haul against Odisha. The Punjab captain, Harbhajan Singh, won the toss and asked Odisha to have a bat on a fresh wicket in Mohali.
Odisha made a good start as their openers, Girija Rout and Nataraj Behera, strung together a partnership of 47 runs in the opening 17 overs. Sidhart Kaul broke through the opening partnership and sent Nataraj Behera back while Niranjan Behera fell to a run out for just 7 runs. The other opener, Rout, was sent back by Harbhajan Singh for 38.
The Odisha middle order of Govind Podder (42), Biplab Samantray (30) and Abhilash Mallik (32*) got starts but failed to capitalise on them and left the lower order exposed. Harbhajan Singh and Sandeep Sharma took full advantage and got the better of the lower order batsman. From 139/4, Odidha slid to 205 all out with Harbhajan Singh creating most of the damage and ending up with figures of 6/54.
At the end of day’s play Punjab was at 11/0 with both openers holding fort.
The return in form for Harbhajan Singh is a good news for Indian selectors as the teams for the two Test series against West Indies would be picked shortly and with this performance, the “turbanator” has finally created an impact after a sedate season of 2012.