Chand powers Delhi to Challenger Trophy final

Indore, Sep 28 (IANS) A superb century by opening batsman Unmukt Chand powered Delhi into the final of the N.K.P. Salve Challenger Trophy by drubbing India Red by 112 runs at the Holkar Cricket Stadium here Saturday.

In a must win final group match, Chand's 119 took Delhi to 342/6 in their quota of 50 overs against which India Red were bowled out for 230 in 40.1 overs.

Put in to bat, Delhi's batting looked solid with Gautam Gambhir (20) and Chand striking a 61-run partnership for the opening wicket.

After Gambhir's dismissal, skipper Virat Kohli (63) joined Chand and blasted through the field, making 63 off just 55 balls, which included five boundaries and two sixes. The duo put on 93 runs together before Kohli was stumped by wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel in the 25th over.

Former Delhi skipper Virender Sehwag, however, failed to capitalise on his opportunity, making only eight before being bowled by left arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.

Chand, however, continued to anchor the innings hitting 12 boundaries and three sixes in his 131-ball knock and was well supported by Milind Kumar (57) in the middle overs.

Towards the end of the innings, experienced all-rounder Rajat Bhatia struck a few hefty blows to take Delhi well past the 300-mark. Bhatia remained unbeaten at 40 which came off only 19 deliveries and included three sixes and boundaries each.

Abhimanyu Mithun, 23, though expensive, clinched three important Delhi wickets, including that of Gambhir and Chand while Nadeem scalped two.

In response, India Red did not take off well and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Opener Abhinav Mukund (64) tried to guide his team through but was not given enough support.

In the end, Gurkeerat Singh struck some lusty blows to take India Red past the 200 mark. The 23-year-old thrashed the ball all over the park scoring 83 off 51 balls which included eight boundaries and four huge sixes.

Experienced Delhi pacer Ashish Nehra and left arm orthodox bowler Varun Sood were having a gala day having shared nine wickets between them. Sood finished with figures of 5/84 from his 12 overs while Nehra clinched 4/38 from his nine.

In the final Sunday, Delhi will take on India Blue.

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