Karun Nair stroked a defiant century but he could not deny a handsome 170-run victory for India Red in the opening match of the Duleep Trophy cricket tournament at the Ekana International Stadium here on Sunday.
Chasing a fourth innings target of 474, India Green, which had been bundled out for 157 in the first innings was never realistically in the race. However, there was a chance that it could force a draw.
When Karun, who has been named the captain for the India-A team, to soon play against New Zealand, was batting fluently with Ravikumar Samarth (59), Parthiv Patel and later Mayank Dagar (45), Green looked to be in the pink of health.
As usual, at dusk, in cool conditions, wickets fell in a heap as leg spinner Karn Sharma strengthened his art with a six-wicket bag. More commendably, and quite surprisingly, medium pacer Siddharth Kaul could bend his back to snap four precious wickets on a pitch that hardly helped the fast bowlers.
The magician of the first innings, off spinner Krishnappa Gowtham who had bagged five wickets, went wicket less as he was ill, but it did not matter.
The 25-year-old Karun Nair who had scored 90 in his last first class innings against South Africa-A, timed the ball nicely in reaching 120 off 203 balls with 13 fours.
The 29-year-old Karn Sharma was bagging five or more wickets for the eighth time in first class cricket.
For his century in both the innings, opener of India Red, Priyank Panchal was adjudged the ‘’man of the match’’.
Captain Parthiv Patel appreciated the century by Karn Sharma and the fine conditions. He said that it was a great opportunity for the players selected for India-A, and equally for those coming in as replacements into the Duleep teams, Red, Green and Blue.
On the personal front, Parthiv said that he was very happy to reach a land mark of 10,000 first class runs, and said that he was in the best of shape in terms of fitness and skill to play the game at the highest level for long.
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