Intent and character form an integral part of any five-day contest and it was displayed in abundance by two batsmen on the first day of the Duleep Trophy Final at the NPR College Ground in Natham on Tuesday.
Ricky Bhui (53*, 136 b, 5x4) and Anmolpreet Singh (96, 147b, 14x4, 1x6) of India Blue added 144 runs in 270 balls to power India Blue to a respectable finish at 260 for five on Day One.
READ| As it happened
India Blue captain Faiz Fazal - considering the nature of the wicket, the conditions and the pink ball - won the toss and elected to bat.
It was a tale of swinging fortunes. The first hour belonged to the batsmen with India Blue scoring at nearly 4 runs an over for the first 10.
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Fazal was involved in a 50-run opening partnership with Smit Patel before Mihir Hirwani (1/75) and Parvez Rasool (2/65) spun a web around the batsmen. Rasool removed Patel and Hirwani breached Fazal’s defence.
Dhruv Shorey (18, 70 b, 1x4) and Deepak Hooda (26, 84 b, 3x4) put up a 44-run stand but both fell to ordinary shots.
Shorey departed to an unnecessary pull while Hooda fell to a sweep shot - both finding the man at square leg, to leave India Blue wobbling at 107/4.
Anmolpreet and Ricky, then, began the repair work, taking their time, and playing the ball on merit. They added 20 runs off first 50 balls and then 19 off the next 50. The bowlers, in the meanwhile, were drained out as the humid conditions started to take a toll.
The third session belonged to the batsmen as they brought up their 100-run partnership in 211 balls. Anmolpreet was harsh on Hirwani, carting him for six and two boundaries in an over to assert supremacy.
He fell four short of the three-figure mark when he managed a faint nick, trying to run Prasidh Krishna down to third-man.
Hirwani and Rasool must be lauded for their efforts. Rasool bowled faster through the air and foxed the batsmen with pace, while Hirwani troubled them with his wrong ones. He bowled a little slower, allowing the ball to grip.
The pink ball, that has drawn flak from the players and coaches, lost its shape and had to be changed after 70 overs. The pink ball's future in the subcontinent will depend on the kind of feedback BCCI receives from the teams.
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