India Blue reach Challenger Trophy final

Indore, Sep 27 : India Blue edged past India Red by 11 runs in a high scoring thriller to reach the final of the N.K.P. Salve Challenger Trophy by winning their second consecutive match at the Holkar Cricket Stadium here Friday.

After defeating Delhi Thursday, India Blue, put in to bat, were aided by some solid batting display to put on a huge total of 345/4 in 50 overs. In reply, India Red came close but were bowled out for 334 in 49.5 overs.

After losing wicketkeeper batsman Naman Ojha (9) cheaply, opening batsman Akshath Reddy (84) and Manish Pandey (70) put on 143 runs for the second wicket to put the team in a formidable position.

Reddy and Pandey got out in quick succession only to be replaced by the match's biggest partnership of 151 runs in only 78 balls shared between skipper Yuvraj Singh (84) and Abhishek Nayar (75 not out).

Yuvraj's 54-ball knock included six boundaries and five sixes while Nayar thrashed six boundaries and four sixes in his 39-ball knock, with a striking rate of 192.3.

Umesh Yadav, Abhimanyu Mithun and Suraj Yadav, all went for more than six per over, but also managed to clinch a wicket each.

In response, India Red also took off well after losing Robin Utthappa early for 9. Abhinav Mukund (83) and Smit Patel (68) put on a 134-run second wicket partnership to steer the ship well on course of achieving the target. However, after the loss of Mukund and Patel, their ship started rocking a bit.

Kedar Jadhav (49) and Ishank Jaggi (34) provided valuable contribution for the chase but in the end failed to achieve the target.

Vinay Kumar, though expensive, provided four breakthroughs for India Blue, helping them to curtail the runs and take wickets at the end while Piyush Chawla and Iresh Saxena clinched two wickets each.

Saturday's match between Delhi and India Red will decide the other finalist.

--IANS (Posted on 27-09-2013)

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