India Red continued their poor show on the final day of the Duleep Trophy final, to hand India Blue a victory without too much trouble. Set a mammoth target of 517 in two and a half sessions, to lift the trophy, India Red batsmen did not seem in any mood to stick around. They played too many airy-fairy shots to give up their wickets, and did not show the inclination to try and play for a draw. As a result, they folded up for a disappointing 161, and handed India Blue the Duleep Trophy, succumbing to a 355-run victory.
For India Blue, Ravindra Jadeja stood out again with five wickets. He had claimed a five-for in the first innings as well, to finish with a 10-wicket match haul. The left-arm spinner got good support from Karn Sharma, who claimed three scalps. There was turn for the spinners, but it was slow turn. And, while Jadeja, Karn and Parvez Rasool made good use of the conditions, by maintaining a tight line and length, India Red should be extremely disappointed with the kind of batting effort they put up on the final day. After all, five Red players have represented India in Tests.
The chase began on a tough note for India Red as Pankaj Singh again troubled Abhinav Mukund. He came perilously close to getting him lbw, and hit him on the shoulder as well with a rising delivery, as a result of which, Mukund had to retire hurt. At the other end, Pankaj had a catch of Shikhar Dhawan, dropped by Karthik, on 11. Despite his best efforts, Pankaj went wicketless, but the spinners reaped the rewards of the pressure build. Sudip Chatterjee top-edged trying to sweep Jadeja while Dhawan’s misery came to an end when he edged Rasool to first slip where Gautam Gambhir took a smart diving catch.
India Red were 49 for 2 at tea, and things did not improve in the next session. Skipper Yuvraj Singh’s torrid run continued as he top-edged a sweep off Jadeja. Binny, having been lucky to survive a dismissal off a no-ball, completed missed a sweep against Jadeja, and was cleaned up before he could open his account. Gurkeerat Singh made a fluent 39 before being stumped off Karn’s bowling, trying to play an inside out drive. Gurkeerat’s dismissal left Red hanging at 106 for 5, with only the tail to come. The end came swiftly as well.
Jadeja continued his great run with a ball, sending back Amit Mishra, beating him in flight, turn and bounce, as the edge was held by Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip. This was something Mishra himself failed to do with the bat. Next, Karn drew Ankush Bains into a drive, and got him to nick one to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik. Pradeep Sangwan was bowled next ball. Fittingly, Jadeja finished off the match, by trapping Nathu Singh, who had a forgettable match himself, plumb in front.
--By A Cricket Correspondent