Bangalore: Sushant Marathe was a picture of pluck and poise with an added lucky streak as his unbeaten 80 guided Air India (R) to a five-wicket victory over ONGC in a Sahara BCCI Corporate Trophy tournament semifinal at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Saturday night.
Needing 214 for victory, Air India (R) suffered an early setback as Naman Ojha found Virat Kohli’s palms while Munaf Patel exulted. Robin Uthappa (45, 49b, 7x4) and southpaw Marathe (80 n.o., 106b, 8x4) then papered over the crack through a 94-run second-wicket partnership.
Uthappa drove and flicked Munaf and Praveen Kumar and later knelt down to slam leg-spinner Amit Mishra.
‘Man of the Match’ Marathe meanwhile relished his off-side runs, tucking into Munaf with slashes and cuts and on 29 was adjudged not out by umpire Subrata Das though the edged sweep against off-spinner Sarandeep sailed to ONGC skipper Gautam Gambhir at first slip.
ONGC briefly inched back as Mishra trapped Uthappa, Sarandeep bowled a charging Suresh Raina and Ishant Sharma, after being pulled for four, surprised and shocked Air India (R) skipper Yuvraj Singh with a bouncer.
And when Hrishikesh Kanitkar was dismissed for 13, Air India (R) was 148 for five but with just 66 required from 128 deliveries, Marathe along with Ankeet Chavan (41 n.o.) ensured that there was no more panic.
Earlier, the ONGC innings mirrored the fortunes of skipper Gautam Gambhir (63, 75b, 4x4) and Virat Kohli (46, 57b, 4x4, 1x6). The duo got together at 25 for two after openers Praveen Kumar and Sandeep Sharma were dismissed in consecutive deliveries by seamer Dhawal Kulkarni.
Kohli soon displayed decisive footwork and powerful arms as he slammed Yuvraj for six. Gambhir meanwhile essayed a few cuts and also twinkle-toed to cart seamer Moondeep Mangela. Gambhir and Kohli shared a 92-run third-wicket partnership but failed to build on and once they departed, ONGC folded for 213 all out in 48 overs.
The scores: ONGC 213 in 48 overs (G. Gambhir 63, Virat Kohli 46, T. Srivastav 29, Dhawal Kulkarni three for 40) lost to Air India (R) 215 for five in 40 overs (S. Marathe 80 n.o., R. Uthappa 45, A. Chavan 41 n.o.).