Duleep Trophy final: Abhimanyu Easwaran gives India Red the advantage

India Red is primed to secure the first-innings lead against India Green, thanks to a fluid unbeaten century from Abhimanyu Easwaran.

India Red's Abhimanyu Easwaran after reaching his century in Duleep Trophy final.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Abhimanyu Easwaran scored a stroke-filled century as India Red consolidated its position after bowling out India Green for 231 on Day Two of the Duleep Trophy final at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday.

At stumps, India Red was 175 for 2, with Abhimanyu batting on 102 and Ankit Kalsi, alongside him, batting on 11.

After the insipid display by Green's batsmen on the first day, No. 8Mayank Markande pulled it back for the side by rallying with the tail in the morning sesson. Green went past the 200-run mark with valuable ninth and 10th wicket partnerships that yielded 119 runs. Markande remained unbeaten on 76 (off 121 deliveries), a career high.

Windy conditions prevailed and grey clouds hovered over, but rain largely stayed away as Red openers Easwaran and Priyank Panchal stitched together an 87-run partnership to take control of the contest. Captain Panchal didn’t look in the best of touch, but held guard before edging a delivery from fast bowler Ankit Rajpoot to wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar. He contributed 33 runs off 78 balls in the 121-ball partnership.

Fluid knock

The newly appointed Bengal captain, Abhimanyu, batted fluidly right from the start. He went for his shots and brought up the match’s first six over long-on against left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja. He brought up his half-century in just 70 balls and was in complete control against both pacers and spinners. The 23-year-old played his only uncertain shot — a bottom edge to the boundary behind the wicket — to reach his 13th first-class century. He hit eleven fours and two sixes.

DAY ONE REPORT

Going for pace, Rajesh Mohanty overstepped seven times on Thursday, but couldn’t utilise the windy conditions to swing and trouble the batsmen. Rajpoot, too, didn’t threaten on a pitch that looked good for batting. Strangely, despite the largely ineffective bowling on display, Green didn’t bring in Markande to bowl until the 33rd over.

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Karun Nair, who looked set for a big innings yet again, fell to Markande for 20 after completely missing a pull shot and exposing his stumps. Shortly after the tea break, rain clouds anchored in and disrupted play for 64 minutes. Abhimanyu was on 82 then. The third-wicket pair safely saw off the rest of the passage of play to finish the second day on top.

Defiant tail

Starting the day on 147 for 8, Green’s lower order continued defiantly. Even after Sandeep Warrier castled Tanveer ul-Haq after a 60-run resistance from the pair, Rajpoot, the No. 11, played with confidence and contributed handsomely to the team’s total. While Tanveer ul-Haq played the supporting act, Ankit took things in his control and hit strokes around the park. Green could have folded up for 203 if Mahipal Lomror had latched on to a sitter at long-on. The dropped catch helped the last pair add another 28 runs before Avesh Khan ended the fightback with a short ball that rose sharply to hit the handle and offer a catch to Sarwate.

The 10th-wicket partnership yielded 59 runs, making it the second-highest behind the eighth-wicket partnership. Ankit Rajpoot also registered his highest score of 30 to help the team end the first innings at 231. The last two pairs held fort for 94 minutes.

Brief Scores

India Red 175 for 2 (Abhimanyu Easwaran 102 n.o.) trails India Green 231 (Mayank Markande 76, Jaydev Unadkat 4 for 83) by 56 runs.