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India Blue, India Red declared joint winners

S. Dinakar


  • V.R.V. Singh needs to work on consistency
  • Sachin Tendulkar falls to Zaheer Khan



    SHARING THE SPOILS: The captains of India Blue and India Red, Rahul Dravid (right) and Venugopala Rao, hold the trophy as both the teams were declared joint winners in Chennai on Wednesday.

    Chennai: First it rained runs from Virender Sehwag's blade and then the skies opened up. We were back to a familiar story at this venue.

    Another match suffered at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium due to inclement weather. The covers made an appearance so did the super-sopper. The ground staff toiled, but rain had the final say.

    Only 31.2 overs could be completed in the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy series final when the showers began. After a brief respite, raising hopes of further action, it began pouring again. Play was suspended at 5.12 p.m. and the match never resumed.

    India Blue and India Red were declared joint winners — Rahul Dravid and Venugopala Rao held the trophy together. The match was interestingly poised, with Blue at 210 for four.

    The competition was denied a climax though.

    Player of the Series

    V.R.V. Singh was, however, smiling. The big-built paceman whose bowling had all the three elements — pace, bounce and movement — was adjudged the Player of the Series.

    He walked away with a cheque for Rs. one lakh, although his display here on Wednesday suggested that the bowler needed to work on another essential aspect — consistency. The man who took a heavy toll of V.R.V. Singh's waywardness was Sehwag. He too ended up smiling on a rainy day. Sehwag was among the runs again at the top of the order.

    The opener's 81-ball unbeaten 90 (14x4, 1x6) would have lifted his confidence levels ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy.

    The belligerent batsman made a quick recovery from an ankle strain; he dispatched deliveries to the fence quickly too.

    There was another moment of concern on the disciplinary front as well. After the spat between Harbhajan Singh and S. Sreesanth on Sunday, it was the turn of Yuvraj Singh and Murali Kartik to exchange words.

    Left-armer Kartik had just won a leg-before verdict against Yuvraj when the left-hander appeared to brush the bowler's shoulder as he walked past him. We were witnessing another flare-up.

    Earlier, Dravid predictably chose to bat. The in-form Sachin Tendulkar did not last long; a change of pace from Zaheer Khan had the maestro spooning his drive to an alert Robin Uthappa at short cover.

    But then, Sehwag, after a circumspect beginning, ran into form striking the ball with typical nonchalance and almost magically sending the ball screaming through the gaps. The slightest error of length was punished. Sehwag, in a manner so typical of him, also created the width with short arm jabs.

    Irfan Pathan, who was earlier put down at slip by Murali Kartik off a luckless Sreesanth, was well held at point by substitute R. Satish off Zaheer. The left-armer brought his experience into play, varying the speed of his deliveries, but could not control the extent of his swing on occasions.

    Ruthless

    Sehwag continued to pound the bowling, dismissing the speedy Sreesanth and V.R.V. Singh ruthlessly. Dravid earned a reprieve before he had opened his account — Venugopala dropped a difficult catch at covers off Zaheer. He then batted fluently.

    Dravid (43, 52b, 4x4) and Sehwag added 101 in 100 balls for the third wicket when Dravid fell to an Uthappa (from mid-off) — 'keeper Dinesh Karthik combination act; the Indian captain did not stretch his bat fully as he grounded it.

    Sehwag was, however, unrelenting. He was picking the length of the ball in a jiffy and getting himself into the right positions. A delivery on the off-stump from off-spinner Ramesh Powar was not really lacking in length, but Sehwag swung around to pull it past the ropes. There was a degree of risk in the shot, but that's the way Sehwag plays his cricket.

    The scores: India Blue: V. Sehwag (not out) 90; S. Tendulkar c Uthappa b Zaheer 0; I. Pathan c sub b Zaheer 22; R. Dravid (run out) 43; Y. Singh lbw b Kartik 27; M.S. Dhoni (not out) 6; Extras (lb-1, nb-2, w-19) 22; Total (for four wkts. in 31.2 overs) 210.

    Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-55, 3-156, 4-194.

    India Red bowling: Zaheer 6-1-32-2; Sreesanth 8-0-51-0; V.R.V. Singh 7-0-51-0; Powar 3-0-21-0; Kartik 5.2-0-39-1; T.P. Singh 2-0-15-0.

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