Washington Sundar    AFP
Washington Sundar AFP

A tournament that was not supposed to happen in the first place saw Dinesh Karthik and co. winning it for the first time. India Red beat India blue in the final, lifting Duleep Troph 2017. With a day and half still to go, India Blue surrendered within 48 overs. Washington Sundar shone not just as the highest scorer of the match but also with wickets, scoring 130 runs and taking 11 wickets.

India Blue removed the in-form Sundar on the second delivery of the day. Siddarth Kaul and Basil Thampi tried to hit their way out, but Wakhare and Bhatt found their way on an uneven track.

When India Blue started their innings, Ishan Kishan began the proceedings with Abhimanyu Easwaran. On the other hand, the spinners had taken 25 (of 30) wickets in the match. So, Sundar was given the new ball to begin the attack.

Kishan and Easwaran did get off to a decent start with a few boundaries. But Sundar carried his stupendous form, handing first breakthrough for India Red. Easwaran too fell in the next few overs, and this time Gohil jumped to the opportunity.

The Blues survived with some much needed partnership between Manoj Tiwary and Suresh Raina. The duo added 80-run stand for third wicket. However, Raina soon fell without scoring a fifty. Sundar bagged his second wicket.

The in-form batsmen were found heading back to the hut, as Tiwary perished for 38. Sundar was on the brink of a hat-trick when he got Srikar Bharat off the next delivery. But Unadkat denied him.

It was over to Bhatt who kept the hopes alive for the Blues. His heroics took him to his maiden First-Class fifty that comprised of 5 sixes and a four. Bhatt played a lone battle as he lost his partners at the other end.

The change of bowling did the trick for India Red as Suryakumar Yadav removed the dangerous Bhatt for 51. Ishant Sharma gained some inspiration from Bhatt and got a few boundaries as well.

But nothing could withstand the agony of India Red spinners. Sundar went on to finish the game with a total of 6 wickets, while Gohil ended with 3.

Opting to bat, India Red put up top-notch performance as opening batsman Prithvi Shaw brought up a century on his Duleep Trophy debut. He first added a 74-run stand with Akhil Herwadkar, followed by a 211-run partnership with skipper Dinesh Karthik to keep the Reds on course. Karthik, in the process, slammed his 27th ton in First-Class cricket.

At the same time, Bhatt accounted for the wickets of Suryakumar and Herwadkar. Wakhare provided some assistance to Bhatt and broke the lengthy partnership by trapping Karthik in front. Bhatt got lucky the third time with the priced scalp of Shaw.

Sundar provided some resistance to the side with his valiant knock of 88, along with Gohil, to keep India Red on the driver s seat. They cruised to 483. Bhatt and Wahkare ended sharing 7 wickets between them. Pankaj Singh and Unadkat got lucky with apiece.

After adding 166 runs on Day 2, Sundar and Gohil left India Blue in a spot of bother sharing 10 wickets between them. The Blues added hardly any threat to the opposition, losing wickets of Bharat, Tiwary, Raina, Hooda and Kishan in succession.

However, Easwaran brought up a century, and Unadkat played the second fiddle with his quickfire fifty. They together added 140 runs for sixth wicket. The Bengal right-hander smashed 15 boundaries in his 171-ball 127.

With a first-innings lead of 184, India Red had a forgettable start to their second essay. They lost 4 wickets for a mere 58 runs. However, Baba Indrajith s 59 and Sundar s 42 stabalised the innings adding 77 runs for fifth wicket.

Once again, it was Bhatt and Wakhare who spun India Red. They shared 8 wickets, setting target of 393 to maintain their champions tag.

Brief scores:

India Red 483 all-out & 187 for 7 (Prithvi Shaw 33, Baba Indrajith 59, Washington Sundar 42*; Bhargav Bhatt 3 for 75, Akshay Wakhare 2 for 53) beat India Blue 299 & 229 (Suresh Raina 45, Bhargav Bhatt 51; Washington Sundar 6 for 87, Vijay Gohil 3 for 102) by 163 runs.

Man of the Match: Washington Sundar