Shubman Gill (106*, 111b, 8X4, 3X6) continued his purple patch in the List A season, lifting India C to a six-wicket victory over India A in what was a virtual Deodhar Trophy semifinal at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
Imperious strokes all around the ground punctuated a knock that had plenty of singles and doubles as Gill stitched useful partnerships with Abhinav Mukund (37, 40b, 6X4), Ishan Kishan 69, 60b, 11X4) and Suryakumar Yadav (56, 36b, 3X4, 4X6) to help his team get the better of a tight chase.
For a change, runs were aplenty; the contest was being played on perhaps the best batting pitch of the tourney so far. As Gill himself admitted after the contest, “This pitch was better than the last one we played on. When the other team piled on so many runs, we knew we could also do it.”
Batting first, India B went about calmly accumulating runs, keeping wickets in hand for perhaps a final burst towards the end of the innings.
The strategy didn’t work to perfection, as key batsmen – Dinesh Karthik, Ankit Bawne and R. Ashwin – fell in their pursuit of runs to seamer Vijay Shankar. All three dismissals were off seemingly innocuous deliveries.
Holding the innings together was Kedar Jadhav, who showed he was back to full fitness, or close to it, with a smart innings.
He picked gaps in the field to take his singles and twos and without being outright bellicose, hit two fours and two sixes.
The top-order shone brightly for the side. Abhimanyu Easwaran (69, 103b, 5X4), Anmolpreet Singh (59, 56b, 9X4, 1X6) and Nitish Rana (68, 76b, 6X4, 1X6) played entertaining knocks.
Easwaran looked serene in the middle, but couldn’t match the scoring rate of his peers. Anmolpreet, his opening partner, played strokes all around the ground before departing to a tumbling catch taken by Washington Sundar.
Later, Rana, after curbing his attacking instincts with Easwaran, prepared himself to accelerate after the 40th over. He was caught in the deep on the leg side when he played an aggressive pull too many.
India C had no such hiccups when it batted. The top-order batsmen, barring Gill, failed to convert their starts, and it looked an uphill climb when Suresh Raina was dismissed cheaply once again, this time via a run-out.
Gill and Ishan Kishan, the No. 4 batsman, took few chances early on in their partnership of 121, barring a couple of sizzling strokes by Gill, one of which was a slog sweep for six off Ashwin.
Kishan opened up against seamer Mohammed Siraj, hitting him for three consecutive boundaries, injecting flow in the innings. Soon after, he took a liking to spinner Shams Mulani as well, collecting a few boundaries.
In the 36th over, however, he perished against the run of play, failing to read an arm ball from Ashwin that thudded on to his pads.
Yadav came and finished it off for his team, providing the aggressive punch at the death to sign off in style.
From the 42nd over onwards, he made it a no-contest by hitting a few disdainful sixes – through extra cover, deep mid-wicket, and long-on – and boundaries. Gill added a few of his own, as India C stormed home with three overs to spare.
India C plays India B in the final on Saturday.