Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh celebrated his return to the Test side by leading Punjab to an innings victory over Hyderabad on the fourth and final day of their opening Ranji Trophy group league match in Mohali on Monday.
Harbhajan grabbed three wickets at the expense of 50 runs and gave 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 provided the crucial breakthrough as he broke the 108-run stand between former Test batsman V V S Laxman and Akshath Reddy, which had given Hyderabad a chance to fight back 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 stumps were drawn on Sunday, 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.
Harbhajan's breakthrough early in the second session, by dismissing Reddy (59), opened the gates, as Siddarth Kaul, who had taken all three Hyderabad wickets to fall on Sunday, 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 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.