India Blue register 18-run victory over Delhi in NKP Salve Challenger Trophy

Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up the crucial wicket of Virat Kohli early in the innings to put pressure on Delhi in their chase of 271 © PTI (File Photo)

Sep 26, 2013

India Blue registered a narrow 18-run victory over Delhi despite Virender Sehwag‘s blazing half-century and Rajat Bhatia’s resilient knock of 65 in the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy at Indore. This came after Akshath Reddy (53) and Abhishek Nayar (91) guided the India Blue to 270 for six.

 Chasing 271, Delhi had a nightmarish start when India Blue pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck in the very first over to get rid of opener Mohit Sharma with no runs on the board. Bhuvneshwar then went on to get the prized scalp of Virat Kohli in the third over to reduce Delhi to seven for two. Kohli’s wicket brought Virender Sehwag to the middle. He joined Unmukt Chand as the duo began the rescue work. Sehwag may have been out of action for a long time but the nonchalance in his strokeplay was evident right from the start.

The duo added 56 runs for the third wicket from just 45 deliveries to keep Delhi in the hunt. Just when they were looking set, a misunderstanding and a ‘yes-no’ call led to Chand’s run-out and a much-needed breakthrough for India Blue. Milind Kumar then walked in to provide support from the other for Sehwag as the experienced batsmen brought up his half-century from just 33 deliveries in the 13th over.

In the following over by Iresh Saxena, Sehwag started the over with a boundary but was gone next ball as he danced down the track and hit it straight back to the bowler who did well to hold on to it. At this stage, Delhi were 85 for four in the 14th over.

Another important partnership began to brew — this time between Milind and Bhatia. They toiled hard to add 37 runs in the next 10 overs as India Blue began to tighten their grip on the game. When Milind was dismissed in the 24th over, Punit Bisht came in and added 38 runs for the sixth wicket with Bhatia to keep his side afloat. However, three quick wickets left Delhi reeling at 169 for eight with Bhatia stranded at one end. At that moment, Delhi still needed 102 runs from 16 overs.

With Ashish Nehra at the other end, Bhatia saw the need to hit out and scored two consecutive boundaries off Ankit Rajpoot. To Nehra’s credit, he held on well from the other end, allowing Bhatia to try and pull off a miracle. Nehra, in fact, went one step further and whacked Piyush Chawla for a six over deep midwicket. The duo pulled through and brought the equation down to 46 runs from 42 deliveries and Delhi set for a memorable victory.

However, Rajpoot brought a virtual end to Delhi’s chances when he cleaned up Bhatia. But, to most people’s surprise, Nehra wasn’t done yet. He entertained the Delhi crowd with hitting like never before. His unbeaten knock of 37 from 41 balls had one four and two sixes. He came agonisingly close to being an unlikely hero with the bat before Awana was cleaned up by Vinay Kuman to end the Delhi innings 18 runs short of the target.

Read first innings report here

Brief score:

India Blue 270 for 6 in 50 overs (Akshath Reddy 53, Abhishek Nayar 91; Rajat Bhatia 3 for 46) beat Delhi 252 in 47.5 overs (Virender Sehwag 59, Rajat Bhatia 65; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3 for 58, Ankit Rajpoot 3 for 44) by 18 runs.