MOHALI: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh celebrated his return to Indian Test side by leading his Ranji team, Punjab to an innings win over Hyderabad on the fourth and final day of their opening group league match on Monday.
Harbhajan grabbed three wickets at the expense of 50 runs to give able support to Siddarth Kaul who had a five-wicket haul as Punjab crushed Hyderabad by an innings and 68 runs to collect seven points from the Group B match at the PCA Stadium.
The 32-year-old offie, who has been struggling of late, gave the crucial breakthrough as he broke the 108-run stand between former Test batsman VVS Laxman and Akshath Reddy, which had given Hyderabad a chance to fightback after conceding a huge 307 first innings lead.
Hyderabad, who had scored 258 in their first innings, finally ended their second essay at 239 all out in 80 overs. They faced 65 overs after resuming the day at 46 for three.
Laxman, who was yet to open his account when the stumps were drawn yesterday, top-scored with a 110-ball 67, which was studded with 10 boundaries and Reddy defied the Punjab attack for more than a session and 30 overs.
The breakthrough given by Harbhajan early in the second session by dismissing Reddy (59) opened the gates as Siddarth Kaul, who had taken all three Hyderabad wickets to fall yesterday, quickly dismissed Arjun Yadav and Laxman to reduce the visitors to 159 for six.
Hyderabad lost two more wickets before Harbhajan polished off the tail by claiming the wickets of Mohammed Khader (1) and another India player Pragyan Ojha (22) to wrap up the match.
Punjab play Bengal in their next group match from November 9-12.
Hyderabad: 258 & 239 (VVS Laxman 67, Akshath Reddy 59; Siddarth Kaul 5/53, Harbhajan Singh 3/50) vs Punjab 565 for 6 declared.