Eager to make a comeback to the national team, Punjab skipper Harbhajan Singh today returned with a sensational six-wicket haul to skittle out Odisha for 205 in their first innings on the opening day of a Group A Ranji Trophy match on Sunday.
Harbhajan produced a brilliant display of spin bowling to return with figures of 28.2-12-54-6 at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium here.
Leading from the front, the 33-year-old showed once again that he sill has a lot of fire left in him as he scalped the wickets of Girjia Rout (38), Govind Podder (42), Biplab Samantray (30), Halhadar Das (0), Alok Mangaraj (4) and Dhiraj Singh (0).
Harbhajan's six-wicket haul will hold him in good stead when the selectors meet to pick the squad for the two-match Test series against the West Indies to be played next month.
Jiwanjot Singh (6) and R Inder Singh (5) were at the crease as Punjab reached 11 for no loss at the draw of stumps.
Earlier, Harbhajan justified his decision to field first with his exploits. He was supported by pacers Sandeep Sharma (2/49) and Siddarth Kaul (1/38).
Kaul struck first when he dismissed opener Natraj Behera in the 15th over to reduce Odisha to 47 for one. Sandeep then piled up more agony on the visitors when he ran out N Behera in the 31st over with the scoreboard reading 66 for two.
Harbhajan then started weaving his magic as he got rid of the opener Rout before the India spinner then struck in the 58th over, dismissing Samantray, who was caught behind by Uday Kaul.
He continued making life difficult for the visitors who looked down the barrel when Podder too was sent back to the pavilion by Harbhajan in the 70th over.
Abhilash Mallick tried to held on to one side with a hard-fought 110-ball 32 but Odisha could not put the brakes on the slide and were dismissed in 83.2 overs in the end.
Odisha 1st innings: 205 all out in 83.2 overs (GB Podder 42; Harbhajan Singh 6/54).