New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) Manav Jaini was flawless for the second successive day, while Gaganjeet Bhullar did not miss a single fairway and the duo, along with Ashok Kumar and Shankar Das, were close on the heels of the leader Bangladesh's Siddikur (67) at the midway stage of the Panasonic Open India here Friday.
Siddikur, who holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) had a five-man bunch including four Indians within one shot of him. Also in this group was Thai Prom Meesawat, who is chasing his first title since 2006.
Siddikur was six-under 138 for 36 holes, while Jaini (67), Bhullar (67), Das (69), Ashok (69) and Meesawat (69) were at five-under 139.
Meanwhile defending champion and first round leader, Anirban Lahiri, dropped as many as six shots between the eighth and 15th to card 75 and drop to tied 17th at even par 144.
Indians continued to hold sway in the event with eight of them inside top 16 places as the cut came at six-over in trying conditions. A total of 21 Indians made the cut, and the biggest casualty was Himmat Rai (79-77) and also making an early exit were Swede Rikard Karlberg, who has won two titles at this course, and Ajeetesh Sandhu.
SSP Chowrasia (72), Harmeet Kahlon (71) and Digvijay Singh (73) were lying tied 11th at one-under 143, while Sanjay Kumar (72) was tied eighth at 142.
Jaini, who lost in the play-off of this very event last year, had 18 pars on the first day and Friday, he had five birdies and no bogeys.
"My game is in good shape and I am staying in the present. I am playing according to the situation. I know this course well and it can always strike back at any time, so I am trying to avoid taking any chances, especially in such tough conditions," said Jaini.
Bhullar found all 14 fairways from the tees and had four birdies and an eagle on the 14th. His lone blemish was the bogey on par-3 17th. Starting from the 10th tee, Bhullar got off to a fast start as he sank a 30-foot chip in birdie on the 13th hole and fired an eagle-three on the next hole when his six-iron approach shot landed six feet from the hole.
"I hit the ball really close which was different compared to yesterday. This season has just started and if I compare this season and the last, I feel that I'm hitting the ball better. I did a few changes in my swing and that has been helping in my ball striking," said Bhullar.
The halfway cut was set at five-over-par 149 with a total of 65 players making the weekend rounds.
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