Riding on brilliant innings of 128 from Shikhar Dhawan and defensive bowling on a pitch which had everything for the batsmen, the India Red team defeated India Blue by a margin of 23 runs, to kick off the campaign on a high.
The match would not have gone to the penultimate over if Deepak Hooda wouldn’t have played innings of 46 of 27 balls, to keep hopes of his team alive.
It was Harbhajan Singh-led India Blue that won the toss and decided to bat. Parthiv Patel, who has just been handed a central contract by BCCI opened the innings along with the discarded Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan. The experienced duo of two put up a partnership of 93 runs in just 16.2 overs. After Parthiv’s dismissal, Dhawan continued to drive the team forward. He shared 103 runs with Ishank Jaggi before completing his 21st List A century in 114 balls with 10 fours and a six.
He was looking good for big innings but was dismissed on 128 when Manoj Tiwary caught him off Deepak Hooda. In total, his innings comprised of 13 fours and three sixes.
After his dismissal, the India Red batting line-up did not crumble and riding on efficient contributions from the lower order, added 72 runs in last 10 overs.
The young duo of Mayank Agarwal and Mandeep Singh came out to open the innings with an eye on a huge target of 328. After putting up a confident partnership of 45, the team suffered two jitters as both the openers were sent back by Axar Patel and Kulwant Khejroliya respectively. Then came the moment when Ambati Rayudu and Manoj Tiwary shared 79 runs for the third wicket to wrest the game but Khejroliya dismissed Tiwary to break the partnership.
India Blue continued to suffer regular blows and as a result, the Harbhajan Singh-led side was bowled out for a score of 304. Though at one stage, it looked like Deepak Hooda, who played an innings of 46 of 27 might snatch the game but a hat-trick from Dhawal Kulkarni was enough for Parthiv Patel led India Red to take a step forward in the series.
India Red will now take on Vijay Hazare champions Tamil Nadu tomorrow in the second game of the tournament.
Brief Scores: India Red 327 ( Shikhar Dhawan 128, Ishank Jaggi 53; Siddharth Kaul -59, -41) vs India Blue 304 (Ambati Raydu 92, Deepak Hooda 46; Dhawal Kulkarni 3-64, Akshay Karnewar 3-30)