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Wicket-keeper Abhishek Gupta struck an unbeaten century on debut as Punjab reached 484 for six in reply to Himachal Pradesh's mammoth 729 for eight declared on the third day of a Group D Ranji Trophy match, here today.
Gupta made a quickfire 129 not out off 116 balls with the help of 16 boundaries and four sixes to held the fort for Punjab in the company of his name sake and another debutant Abhishek Sharma (81 not out).
Himachal Pradesh will go into day four needing four more wickets to secure a first-innings lead but for that to happen the home team bowlers will have to break the 210-run seventh- wicket partnership between Gupta and Sharma.
The two batsmen, both on their first-class debut, came to their side's rescue after Punjab were down at 274 for 6 at one stage.
The duo then stretched Punjab to 484 for six by stumps on the third day.
Resuming the day at the overnight score of 110 for 1, Punjab captain Jiwanjot Singh (59) and No. 4 batsman Anmolpreet Singh (50) made fifties, before off-spinner Gurvinder Singh (5/118) accounted for both the batsman.
Elsewhere in another Group D match in New Delhi, a five- for from off-spinner Aamir Gani helped Bengal secure a first- innings lead of 193 over Services.
Bengal opted not to enforce the follow-on and stretched their lead to 270 by stumps on the third day.
Services opener Navneet Singh, who was unbeaten on 44 overnight, went on to score 121 on first-class debut, while Ravi Chauhan (53), Rahul Singh (43) and Shamsher Yadav (38) made fine contributions.
However, unlike Bengal, who had five half-centurions in their first innings to support Sudip Chatterjee's hundred, Services' batsman failed to build on their starts.
Right-arm off-break bowler Aamir Gani's impressive 5 for 109 figure spell was responsible for restricting in Services.
At stumps, Bengal were batting on 77 for no loss in their second innings.
Abhishek Raman was unbeaten on 40 while Abhimanyu Easwaran was on 31.
Brief Scores (Group D):
Himachal Pradesh 729/8 dec (Prashant Chopra 338, Paras Dogra 99; Sandeep Sharma 4/149) vs Punjab 484/6 (Abhishek Gupta 129 not out, Abhishek Sharma 81; Gurvinder Singh 5/118).
Bengal 552/9 decl & 77 for no loss (Abhsiehk Raman 40 not out vs Services 359 all out (Navneet Singh 121; Aamir Gani 5/109).
Chattisgarh 458 all out (Manoj Singh 125, Mohammed Kaif 61, Jatin Saxena 82) vs Goa 223/4 (Sumiran Amonkar 79).
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