Jiwanjot Singh makes life count

Jiwanjot SinghJiwanjot Singh cuts Ashish Nehra (not in pic) during his unbeaten 105 on Monday (IE Photo Amit Mehra)

Just after lunch, Delhi were caught napping. Virender Sehwag, standing in the slips, dropped Jiwanjot Singh after Rajat Bhatia had made the batsman edge the ball. Jiwanjot was on 40 and Punjab 72/1.

The 23-year-old went on to score his second century of the season (105*, 169b, 15x4) and the seventh of his first class career. Punjab, thanks to their opener's more than four hour stay at the wicket, finished on 177/3. The game had taken an interesting turn. The visitors, who had collapsed to 74 all out in the first innings, were now leading by 102 runs.

Though, Jiwanjot has had a second innings double hundred against Vidarbha earlier in the season, his unbeaten 105 on Monday was a far more significant effort. Why? It came against a quality attack in far tougher conditions. The light sunshine and the heavy roller used by the Punjab team management may have eased the pitch, but plenty off balls still rose terrifically from length.

Jiwanjot played with caution and constantly changed his game to negate the conditions. He negotiated the moving ball well by judging the line and length early. The right-hander even walked out of the crease, with a good press forward, to ride over the occasional awkward bounce. And while doing all that, he still did not miss the chance punish the bad balls.

After his fellow opener Manan Vohra was out cheaply, Jiwanjot found an able partner in Uday Kaul, who too kept the scoreboard ticking. Jiwanjot's flawless driving, with his elbow going all the way above the head, was a treat to watch even for the fielders.

His square cut was easy on the eye, straight from the coaching manuals. But when it comes to the on-drive, the opener often tended to be safe rather than stylish. Unlike most batsmen, he doesn't roll his wrists while playing the balls aimed at his legs but presents the full face of the bat. On Monday, this stroke earned him plenty of runs.

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