After sailing through against Indian Revenue (in the league phase) and Tata Sports Club (in the semifinal), Harbhajan Singh’s captaincy will face a sterner test when Air India-Blue take on the might of Air India-Red in the final of the BCCI Corporate Trophy.
Besides the captain, the Blue line-up includes MS Dhoni and fast bowler RP Singh for whom on Tuesday will be the last chance to pick up some wickets before India embark for the tri-series in Sri Lanka.
The Blue batsmen have been prolific with openers Chandan Madan and Manvinder Bisla scoring match-winning tons and Dhoni joining the party against Indian Revenue with an unbeaten 106.
So dominant have been the top four, Mohd Kaif included, that the middle order has hardly been exposed. On the contrary, Red have crossed tougher hurdles on their way to the summit clash — getting the better of India Cements in the last league game, and then an even stronger ONGC, comprising four India players, in the semifinal.
The character displayed by captain Yuvraj Singh’s young side gives them the edge against Blue, who have not been tested in this competition except by the weather in Chandigarh.
Blue would consider themselves lucky to be in the semifinal after their first match was washed out. They managed a 42-over match against Indian Revenue, which they won by 143 runs, to seal the last four berth, where they had another easy outing against Tata Sports Club.
The Red batsmen have been among runs and would go into the final high on confidence. While Suresh Raina came good against India Cements, they found a match winner in Sushant Marathe in the semifinal against ONGC. Robin Uthappa, Naman Ojha and Yuvraj too have contributed with the bat.
Though the Blue bowling scores on experience, the enthusiasm of the Red bowlers will make the contest exciting.
Asked if it mattered who won on Tuesday, as Air India would lift the trophy anyway, Blue coach Praveen Amre said: “It does matter for the players and especially the captains. Both of them (captains) will fight for the trophy and be judged in the final.”