Spinners help India Blue clinch the Duleep Trophy

Saurabh Kumar (5/51) and Deepak Hooda (5/56) share the spoils as India Blue decimates a listless India Red by an innings and 187 runs to win the Duleep Trophy.

India Blue's Saurabh Kumar (left) celebrates with teammates after dismissing Ishan Kishan during the Duleep Trophy match at NPR College ground, Natham on Friday.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

India Blue spinners took just 37 minutes and 10.5 overs on the fourth day to thump India Red and win the Duleep Trophy by an innings and 187 runs at the NPR College Ground in Natham on Friday.

Duleep Trophy, Day 4: As it Happened

The slower bowlers, Saurabh Kumar and Deeapk Hooda, were the wrecker-in-chiefs, splitting the ten wickets between them.

While Saurabh returned with figures of 5/51 in 13 overs, Hooda joined the party with a 5/56 in 14.5 overs under his belt.

Resuming at an overnight score of 128 for five, in its second innings, India Red faltered and stumbled as its batsmen looked clueless on a wearing pitch against accurate spin bowling and folded for just 172 in its second innings, 10 runs lesser than its first innings total.  

The lessons were harsh for India Red. Faiz Fazal knew where the wickets would come from — the slower bowlers.

Saurabh responded to his captain’s faith when he sent Ishan Kishan back to the hut in the first ball he bowled in the day — seventh of the day. Kishan stepped out, but Saurabh found the rough and the ball brushed the pad and the glove and sailed to Anmolpreet Singh at forward short leg.

Hooda then removed Writtick Chatterjee in the next over when the Bengal batsmen offered an easy catch to Ricky Bhui at leg slip.

Saurabh was rewarded for consistently flighting the ball. He targeted the rough and kept it simple and straight, more often than not. The close-in fielders were kept busy and made no mistake in holding on to the half chances.

Mihir Hirwani was the next casualty to Saurbah’s flight when the batsmen misread the length. Hirwani tried to sweep, the ball took the outside edge and was safely pouched by the wicketkeeper.

India Blue players freeze the moment with a 'selfie' after clinching the DuleepTrophy at NPR College ground, Natham on Friday.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

 

Prasidh Krishna perished to Hooda when he went for a wild heave only to miss a clean strike; the ball clipped the bails off.

It was only fitting for the man-of-the-match, Nikhil Gangta, to take the final catch and signal his team’s win when he grasped Ishan Porel’s heave at deep midwicket, after running to his right.

Daily reports: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

India Blue skipper Fazal said having 541 on the board proved to be the difference between the two teams. “We had the best of time to bat and bowl. We knew when we had 540 on the board, we can put pressure on them and that is what we did. Once they were five down to about 95-odd runs, we were determined not to bat again,” he said after the match.

Fazal's counterpart Abhinav Mukund said missing the services of a left-arm spinner proved costly. “We had Shahbaz Nadeem playing for us and unfortunately he had to miss out as he had India A duties,” he said.

Mukund admitted that the partnership between Gangta and Anmolpreet hurt them the most. “We had them in our sights at 100-odd runs for 4 wickets but that partnership took it all away. If we had bundled them out for about 300 runs, it would have been a different story,” he said.

Fazal said winning a game by an innings margin makes them proud, “This is what Test cricket is all about. As much as how the first innings (of India Red) was important, the second was too. We still had to take 10 wickets to win comprehensively and not depend on a first-innings lead to win the match,” he concluded.

Brief scores:

India Blue 541 all out in 167.3 overs (N.R. Gangta 136, Anmolpreet Singh 96, Swapnil Singh 69, Parvez Rasool 4 for 150, Mihir Hirwani 3 for 190) beat India Red 182 
all out in 69.1 overs (B. Sandeep 57, Swapnil Singh 5 for 58) and 172 all out in 38.5 overs (Abhinav Mukund 46, Saurabh Kumar 5 for 51, Deepak Hooda 5 for 56) by an innings and 187 runs.