Deodhar Trophy: Vihari, Nadeem lead India B to big win

Dinesh Karthik’s knock of 99 went in vain as India A lost to India B by 43 runs in Deodhar Trophy opener.

India B's Shahbaz Nadeem celebrates after dismissing Karun Nair.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA

Scrappy rearguard efforts from captain Dinesh Karthik (99, 114b,11X4, 1X6) and R. Ashwin (54, 76b, 5X4) were in vain as India B clinched a 43-run victory over India A in a neck-and-neck Deodhar Trophy contest at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Tuesday. A 123-run partnership between the Tamil Nadu veterans provided hope for a side that was tottering at 87 for 5 at one stage; but Shahbaz Nadeem’s decisive strike – the wicket of Ashwin - in the 43rd over, released the floodgates as the left-arm spinner and his spin partner Mayank Markande polished off the tail quickly after.

The spin duo claimed seven wickets between them, proving decisive in a contest dominated by spinners.

The victory margin could have been larger had India B capitalised on its strong start when it batted. Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer were full of stylish strokes; together, they accounted for 13 fours and a six.

India A vs India B: Key highlights

The tables turned when spinners came into the attack. R. Ashwin found grip and turn off the pitch and bowled smartly, throwing in the odd variation and changing angles to unsettle the batsmen. Left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya bowled accurately and was tough to get away with as well. Aggression had to be curbed by Hanuma Vihari (87, 95b, 9X4) and Manoj Tiwary (52, 58b, 1X4, 2X6), both of whom survived a number of close calls en route to a grafting partnership.

By the 38th over, they had settled, but Tiwary’s run out dealt a severe blow. Vihari ploughed on but couldn’t find a stable partner at the other end. He conceded, after the contest, that the score of 260 was “about 20 less than ideal” and that “we did pretty well with the ball to come back.”

He would have to wait for long to rest easy, even after the start given by his team’s bowlers. Nadeem rattled the top-order with two wickets in two deliveries in the third over of the chase. Both were arm balls that trapped Prithvi Shaw and Karun Nair leg-before-wicket.

Soon, Anmolpreet Singh miscued seamer Deepak Chahar to the fine-leg fielder to leave the side three down in the eighth over. Before any useful partnership could have been forged, Varun Aaron undid Ankeet Bawne and Krunal Pandya with express pace; Bawne failed to put bat on ball on a yorker that disturbed his furniture, and Pandya, unsettled by a fast delivery on his body, fended it straight to short square-leg.

Karthik and Ashwin were left to fight it out for much of the remainder of the innings to give their team the chance. As the ball and the pitch were wearing, run-making was becoming difficult. Karthik plodded, ran frantically, struck the occasional boundary and fought fatigue in his enterprising innings that provided the backbone for his team’s recovery. With a staid knock, Ashwin gave him good support.

The partnership was safe so long as the run-rate wasn’t a worry; in need of runs, Ashwin decided to step out of his crease to Markande for a bellicose stroke. He couldn’t get bat to ball, and was duly stumped.

A collapse ensued. Wickets fell at the other end but India A still retained hope in Karthik. But before long, he played a tired stroke, chipping Markande straight back to the bowler, to be dismissed for 99. It was all downhill after that.

BRIEF SCORES

India B 261 for 8 in 50 overs (Hanuma Vihari 87 n.o., Manoj Tiwary 52; R. Ashwin 2 for 39) beat India A 218 in 46.4 overs (Dinesh Karthik 99, R. Ashwin 54; Mayank Markande 4 for 48, Shahbaz Nadeem 3 for 32) by 43 runs.