INDORE: Yuvraj Singh-led India Blue clinched the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy as they beat Delhi by 50 runs in the final on Sunday. Touted to be a contest between the big names battling their way back into international reckoning, the match was shorn of its mien as a contest when Delhi, chasing Blue’s formidable 274/9, lost their top four batsmen within the first 10 overs, leaving the rest to wade through the formality of playing out time.
At the Holkar Cricket Stadium here, Delhi were all out for 224 in 44.4 overs, as Man of the Match Bhuvneshwar Kumar, arguably the best swing bowler in the country, starred with figures of 9-1-39-4. The other Kumar, Vinay, was rather more expensive, but picked up three wickets and also effected the crucial run-out of Delhi captain Virat Kohli.
After Yuvraj elected to bat, Blue openers Naman Ojha (33) and Akshath Reddy (22) plodded along without showing any particular haste. Manish Pandey top-scored with a patient 62, and almost all the batters got starts, before perishing either to Parwinder Awana (4/39) or Rajat Bhatia (4/59 off 12 overs).
Yuvraj himself contributed a slow 29, and the innings seemed set for a conclusion without a flourish when Piyush Chawla hammered out a 32-ball 42. Chawla’s cameo was the perfect boost that Blue needed. And their defence of the total began in right earnest through the two Kumars.
Top guns fail
Bhuvneshwar removed Delhi’s openers Gautam Gambhir (4) and Unmukt Chand (6), before Vinay ran out Kohli (23) and bowled the dangerous Virender Sehwag (5). Delhi were 46/4 after 10 overs, a situation that was remedied somewhat by Milind Kumar (54) and Bhatia (25).
But Chawla claimed both in successive overs to peg the chase back again. Although Puneet Bisht hit a spicy 49-ball 54, the Kumar combine returned to mop up the tail. Bhuvneshwar snared Varun Sood and Ashish Nehra. Vinay then had Awana and last man Pawan Suyal caught behind, as Delhi were bundled out for 224.
Brief Scores: India Blue 274/9 in 50 overs (Manish Pandey 62, Piyush Chawla 42; Rajat Bhatia 4/59, Parwinder Awana 4/39) beat Delhi 224 in 44.4 overs (Puneet Bisht 54, Milind Kumar 54; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4/39, Vinay Kumar 3/64).