Shahbaz Nadeem took 5/53 © Twitter
Shahbaz Nadeem took 5/53 © Twitter

The Duleep Trophy encounter between India Blue and India Red at NPR College ground in Dindigul ended in a draw, albeit an exciting one.

India Red could have won the match but for some stubbornness displayed by two fast bowlers, Dhawal Kulkarni and Bandaru Ayyappa, albeit with the bat in their hands, as they fended some seriously good bowling from off-spinner Parvez Rasool (3/59) and left-arm slow bowler Shahbaz Nadeem (5/53) who were on a roll for the Reds.

India Blue needed an improbable 279 runs to win the match in around two sessions and they started off quite well and didn’t lose a wicket till the 150th ball was bowled in their innings. In-form opener Dhruv Shorey, who made 45 ( 2X4, 1X6), joined hands with captain Faiz Fazal, who made 39 (7X4), and they added 76 runs for the first wicket.

The match was tending towards ending in an uneventful draw by all means, when Rasool got Fazal bowled off the final ball of India Blue’s 25th over, with their score reading 76/1. Not really at that exact moment were the effects known of what Rasool had done; but 13.1 overs later when he got India Blue wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat out caught and bowled in the 39th over, India Blue had suffered a minor apocalypse of sorts.

Reason – In these 13.1 overs, Rasool and Nadeem had run through the Blues line up and had them lose eight wickets for 34 runs. From a comfortable 76/0, India Blue was suddenly 110/8 and staring at a certain defeat with some amount of play left in the day. However, Kulkarni (4 off 33 balls) and Ayyappa (15 off 28 ball), our two gritty fast bowlers, had other ideas and they stuck it out for around 10 overs adding 18 runs to their team’s total to deny the Reds a certain victory. The game finally drew to a close with India Blue on 128/8.

Earlier, day four started with an exciting prospect in store for the match going down to the wire, of course, that possibility being entirely dependent on positive captaincy by both captains. Siddhesh Lad and Wadkar were the overnight batsmen for India Red which had built a 179-run lead till the end of day three. However, they collapsed to 255 all out from 198 for 3 when Wadkar fell to Wakhare. Spinners Saurabh Kumar and Akshay Wakhare took four wickets each.

In the final analysis, India Red gained three points on the basis of their slender first-innings lead of 23 runs.

Now, India Blue and India Green will battle it out from 29 August in the final league match, at the same venue for a spot in the final against India Red, who have secured a berth in the final on the basis of two draws which fetched them six points.

Brief scores:

India Red 316 and vs 255 all out (Siddesh Lad 68, Abhinav Mukund 50, Saurabh Kumar 4 for 79, Akshay Wakhare 4 for 110) drew with India Blue 293 and 128 for 8 (Faiz Fazal 45, Dhruv Shorey 39, Shahbaz Nadeem 5 for 53, Parvez Rasool 3 for 59).

Points Table:

Team P W L D Points
India Red 2 0 0 2 6
India Blue 1 0 0 1 1
India Green 1 0 0 1 1