The rain had improved the pitch, with the moisture binding the surface, much to the delight of the batsmen.  And a day’s rest, following rain and wet conditions, proved invigorating for the battle hardened cricketers, who returned to the crease, hungry for runs.

In the event, Deepak Hooda (133) and Hanuma Vihari (105) drove India Blue past India Red’s first innings total of 383, for crucial three points, in the Duleep Trophy cricket tournament at the Green Park Stadium here on Saturday.

After skipper Suresh Raina had set the stage on the second day with a half century, Hanuma Vihari and Deepak Hooda held the Blues batting together for almost three days. The 132-run partnership for the third wicket between the two, apart from Hooda’s 98 run stand with Jaydev Unadkat who hammered an entertaining half century, tilted the balance
firmly in favour of the Bues.

Vihari struck 15 fours in his 227-ball vigil, while Hooda smashed 133 off 174 balls with 14 fours and three 6s.

Bhargav Bhatt rubbed salt on the wounds of India Red with a 33-run cameo, belting four 6s.

Leg spinner Karn Sharma who had opened the bowling for India Red continued to thrive, as he bagged five wickets for the second time in two matches. In fact, he took his tally to 15 wickets in three innings, against India Green that fetched the Reds six points, and possibly guaranteed a berth in the final to be played in Lucknow.

Basil Thampi worked a nice pace and had the satisfaction of sending centurion Vihari’s off stump flying, with a beauty, for one of his two wickets.

Vijay Gohil, the left arm spinner who had helped double centurion Baba Indrajith add a record 178 for the last wicket that revived the hopes of India Red in the first innings, managed to take two wickets for an expensive 131 runs.

Of course, it was entertaining cricket for the local fans who lustily cheered the boundary hits, many of them over the ropes. But, with the ‘’live’’ scoring of the Board’s website staying silent for two sessions, reportedly owing to an internet issue, nobody around the
country had any clue about play having resumed in bright weather conditions this afternoon.

India Blue used the last session under the floodlights to get some nice bowling practice for its forthcoming match against India Green at the same venue. Rishabh Pant entertained with a sparkling 46 off 23 balls, with seven 4s and two 6s, before being run out by Deepak Hooda.

Baba Indrajith was declared the 'man of the match' for his sparkling double century in the first innings.

India Red 1st innings: 383

India Blue 1st innings: Samit Gohil c Karthik b Karn 32; Hanuma Vihari b Thampi 105; Manoj Tiwary c Rishabh b Thampi 20; Suresh Raina c Panchal b Vijay 52; Deepak Hooda c Rishabh b Vijay 133; Ishan Kishan c Rishabh b Milind 0; Jaydev Unadkat c Indrajith b Karn 57; Bhargav Bhatt c Karthik b Karn 33; Akshay Wakhare st Rishabh b Karn 3; Ankit Rajpoot c Indrajith b Karn 4; Pankaj Rao (not out) 0; Extras (b-1, lb-2, nb-2) 5; Total (all out in 114 overs) 444.

Fall of wickets: 1-47, 2-86, 3-159, 4-291, 5-300, 6-398, 7-404, 8-439, 9-442.

India Red bowling: Karn Sharma 25-4-94-5; Siddharth Kaul 25-6-60–0; Basil Thampi 21-1-97-2; CV Milind 16-3-59-1; Vijay Gohil 27-5-131-2.

India Red 2nd innings: Priyank Panchal c Vihari b Wakhare 19; Sudip Chatterjee b Unadkat 0; Rahul Singh Gahlaut c Bhargav b Rajpoot 19; Rishabh Pant run out (Hooda) 46; CV Milind C Raina b Tiwary 19; Baba Indrajith (not out) 24; Dinesh Karthik (not out) 6; Extras 0; Total (for five wkts. in 35 overs) 133.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-29, 3-84, 4-88, 5-121.

India Blue bowling: Pankaj Rao 3-1-10-0; Jaydev Unadkat 6-0-41-1; Ankit Rajpoot 3-0-17-1; Akshay Wakhare 10-3-26-1; Deepak Hooda 2-1-7-0; Bhargav Bhatt 5-3-6-0; Manoj Tiwary 4-0-20-1; Suresh Raina 1-0-6-0.