India Blue triumphs in style

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REIGNING SUPREME: India Blue sailed to an eight-wicket win over India Red in the final of the Challenger Trophy at Cuttack on Sunday.
REIGNING SUPREME: India Blue sailed to an eight-wicket win over India Red in the final of the Challenger Trophy at Cuttack on Sunday.

S. Sabanayakan

Dinda and Trivedi wreck India Red top order

Rahane and Uthappa got India Blue off to a flier

India Red was tottering at 67 for five in the 19th over

CUTTACK: Diwali arrived early in Cuttack in the form of India Blue fireworks as it won its 10th N.K.P. Salve Challenger Trophy at the Barabati Staidum here on Sunday. Chasing an India Red victory target of 152 off 50 overs, the defending champion’s top-order ensured a smooth victory by eight wickets.

The openers, Ajinkya Rahane and Robin Uthappa, made mince meat of the India Red attack to post a superb first wicket partnership of 93 runs. It was the Mumbai batsman who showed the early aggression but the 22-year-old Uthappa overtook his partner with some solid strokes during his 42-ball 46 (5x4, 2x6). One-drop Virat Kohli (35 not out) used the momentum nicely to complement Rahane’s 53 (64b, 7x4, 1x6).

India Blue or India Seniors as it was known earlier have won the tournament nine times outright and once it was declared joint winners with India Red. India Blue pacer Siddharth Trivedi was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match, while Uthappa was declared the Man-of-the-Series.

Early trouble

India Red batted first on winning the toss but ran into trouble straight away against some inspired bowling by the India Blue pacers, Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda and Trivedi. Losing two quick wickets for 10 runs, first M. Vijay and skipper S. Badrinath and later Badrinath and Praveen Kumar, added some valuable runs to take their side to a modest total of 151 before being bowled out in 43 overs.

Coming in at the fall of Rohit Sharma, Badrinath and opener Vijay (30, 37b, 3x4, 1x6), who had scores of 89 and 45 in the previous two innings, arrested the slide. However, the former’s departure with the total at 47 was a big blow.

Trivedi, coming on as first change, kept a tight line and length to grab three wickets, that of Vijay, Jaydev Shah and Abhishek Nayar, to reduce India Red to 67 for five in the 19th over.

Praveen joined his skipper and the two combined caution with aggression to put on 66 runs for the seventh wicket in 12.4 overs. Praveen’s 35-run cameo came off 37 balls with the help two fours and a six.

Both teams made changes to the playing XI. India Blue opted for Rahane and Trivedi in place of Arjun Yadav and Pradeep Sangwan. India Red brought in Parthiv Patel, Jaydev and R. Vinay Kumar in place of F. Fazal, Manoj Tiwary and Wriddhiman Saha.

Selectors’ denial

Meanwhile, three National selectors, Surendra Bhave, Narendra Hirwani and Raja Venkat, who were present here, denied an agency report that indicated a goof-up in selecting a player for the Challenger Trophy. They said that they indeed named Ravinder Singh of Punjab in the India Blue squad “to take a look at him.” The selectors said they knew about Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, but wanted to see how good Singh, the Punjab middle-order batsman, was.

The scores: India Red: Parthiv lbw b Dinda 0, M. Vijay c Karthick b Trivedi 30, Rohit c Kohli b Dinda 1, S. Badrinath b Ashwin 56, J. Shah b Trivedi 4, A. Nayar c Kohli b Trivedi 4, P. Chawla c Nanda b Ashwin 3, Praveen lbw b Nanda 35, R. Vinay (not out) 7, M. Parmar b Irfan 0, L. Balaji lbw b Irfan 5; Extras (b-1, lb-1, w-3, nb-1): 6. Total (in 43 overs): 151.

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-10, 3-47, 4-53, 5-67, 6-72, 7-138, 8-140, 9-141.

India Blue bowling: Irfan 9-1-30-2, Dinda 8-1-23-2, Trivedi 7-0-23-3, Ashwin 9-2-32-2, Nanda 6-1-21-1, Yuvraj 4-0-20-0.

India Blue: A. Rahane lbw b Parmar 53, R. Uthappa c Vijay b Chawla 46, V. Kohli (not out) 35, Yuvraj (not out) 8; Extras (lb-1, w-9): 10; Total (for two wkts. in 25.4 overs): 152.

Fall of wickets: 1-93, 2-133.

India Red bowling: Praveen 6-0-28-0, Balaji 4-0-20-0, Vinay 5-1-34-0, Chawla 7-0-44-1, Parmar 3.4-0-25-1.

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