India Blue prevail over Delhi

Nayar stars with a sparkling 91 in 18-run win.

INDORE: Ashish Nehra almost turned into a match-winner with the bat, but couldn’t prevent Delhi from going down by 18 runs to India Blue in a match of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy on Thursday. The left-arm fast bowler made a spirited unbeaten 37, inclusive of two sixes, batting at No.10 during Delhi’s chase of Blue’s 270 total.

This after Virender Sehwag (batting at his new position of No.4) had plundered a 38-ball 59 and all-rounder Rajat Bhatia had held together the middle with a patient 65. Delhi never seemed to recover from the early losses of Mohit Sharma (0), Unmukt Chand (13) and captain Virat Kohli (5). It looked all but over at 169/8 in the 34th over, before Bhatia and Nehra smashed the bowling around in a 55-run partnership for the ninth wicket.

The result seemed a given again when young Uttar Pradesh fast bowler Ankit Rajpoot uprooted Bhatia’s middle stump with a leg-cutter. But Nehra kept his team on track, carting maximums off Piyush Chawla and Rajpoot. Forty-four were needed from the last six overs when the injury-prone Nehra and Parvinder Awana collaborated for a brisk 28 for the last wicket.

Last man


But Awana was bowled by Vinay Kumar on the last ball of the 48th over, as Nehra remained unconquered in what was an honourable defeat for his side.

Earlier, opener Akshath Reddy (53) and Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar (91) starred for Blue after Kohli elected to field. Nayar was breathtaking as he raced to his half-century in just 40 deliveries and had 13 fours and a six in his 76-ball knock. He revived the innings from a dicey 99/4 with a little help from a series of lower order cameos – chiefly Chawla's (40) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar's (29*). Nayar, however missed out on a hundred when he chipped off-spinner Milind Kumar straight to cover in the 43rd over.

Brief scores: India Blue 270 in 50 overs (Akshath 53, Nayar 91, Chawla 40*, Bhatia 3/46) beat Delhi 252 in 47.5 overs (Sehwag 59, Bhatia 65, Nehra 37*, Rajpoot 3/44, Bhuvneshwar 3/58)

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