Duleep Trophy: India Blue stretches lead to 476 runs on truncated day

India Blue started at one for no loss and ended the truncated day at 139 for three with an overall lead of 476 runs against India Red. The final day could escape a farcical end provided there is an overnight declaration.

Mayank Agarwal Duleep Trophy final India Blue v India Red

India Blue's Mayank Agarwal sweeps Kuldeep Yadav of India Red during the Duleep Trophy final, in Greater Noida on Tuesday.   -  Sandeep Saxena

It was a day spent in waiting at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex here on Tuesday.

The players and the fans, the most important stakeholders according to the Board, just waited. The players waited to get into action and the fans, once again responding warmly with their encouraging presence, also showed exemplary patience in waiting for the play to resume on the fourth day of the Duleep Trophy final.

Play did resume. India Blue started at one for no loss and ended the truncated day at 139 for three with an overall lead of 476 runs. A total of 285 minutes of play was lost today.

There was hardly any competitive flavour in the proceedings. The huge first innings lead established by India Blue took the sting out of the competition and then the rain-effected day meant just one realistic result – a draw and in turn a title win for India Blue. The final day could escape a farcical end provided there is an overnight declaration.

It was so ironic. A brief spell of shower in the morning deprived the spectators of some entertainment. They had filled up one section of the venue an hour before the first ball was to be bowled. It was so ironic that on a bright afternoon they took their places on the grassy enclosures just to watch the umpires and ground staff carry on with their inspections and repair work.

A few soggy spots in the outfield prevented play and then the game was held up after 4.2 overs because of a wet patch on the bowler’s run up at one end. The players were justified in taking precautions at the start of the season. They waited for the repair work to be completed. It turned out to be a frustrating exercise despite the best efforts of the ground staff.

Finally, there was an uninterrupted session of 28.4 overs to the delight of the sporting spectators. India Blue lost Gautam Gambhir to a forward prod and then Mayank Agarwal regaled the audience in continuation of his excellent form in this tournament. Contrary to expectations, Rohit Sharma used the opportunity to spend time in the middle with an occasional drive to light up the proceedings.

Agarwal’s half century highlighted his terrific run against the pink ball. His sequence of 92, 161, 58, 57 and 52 does put this Karnataka batsman in contention for future slots in the India `A’ squads. His dismissal to a lofted shot cut short a neat performance from this disciplined cricketer.

The scores:

India Blue – 1st innings: 693 for six decl.

India Red – 1st innings: 356.

India Blue – 2nd innings: Mayank Agarwal c Nathu b Kuldeep 52 (83b, 6x4, Gautam Gambhir lbw b Kuldeep 36 (59b, 5x4), Rohit Sharma (batting) 22 (48b, 1x4, 1x6), Dinesh Karthik st Bains b Mishra 16 (12b, 3x4), Ravindra Jadeja (batting) 3 (9b), Extras (lb-7, nb-1, w-2, ) 10, Total (for three wkts in 35 overs) 139.

Fall of wickets: 1-67 (Gambhir), 2-108 (Agarwal), 3-126 (Karthik)

India Red bowling: Pradeep Sangwan 7-1-14-0, Nathu Singh 3-0-27-0, Kuldeep Yadav 14-2-47-2, Stuart Binny 6-0-20-0 (nb-1, w-1), Amit Mishra 5-0-24-1.