By BV Swagath
India Blue led by medium pacer R Vinay Kumar has won the opening game of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy against Delhi today at the Holkar Stadium in Indore. Although the margin of victory is only 18 runs, one has to say that it was a comprehensive victory for India Blue.
Asked to bat first after losing the toss, India Blue got a solid opening start of 56 in 15.2 overs from its openers Naman Ojha (23) and P Akshath Reddy (53 from 77 balls with 7 fours). However, the India Blue team slipped to a shaky position of 99 for 4 in the 25th over. India discard Abhishek Nayar rescued the team with a brilliant knock of 91 from just 73 balls with 13 fours and a six. Leg spinner Piyush Chawla with 40* (from 50 balls) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar with 29* helped India Blue finish with 270 for 6 in the allotted 50 overs. Delhi’s best bowler was Rajat Bhatia, who took 3 for 46 in 10 overs with his slow medium pace.
Delhi were on the backfoot losing its top three batsmen which included Unmukt Chand and Skipper Virat Kohli cheaply. Virender Sehwag, who is eyeing an India comeback, came in at no.4 to blast a quick half century. But Sehwag couldn’t make it big and got out for 59 from 38 balls (with 9 fours and a six). Delhi after his departure at 85 for 4 were out of the match.
Rajat Bhatia with 65 from 89 balls and Ashish Nehra with 37* showed some fight but all in vain as Delhi finished with 252 all out in 47.5 overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ankit Rajpoot took three wickets each with their medium pace for India Blue.