Comeback man Rahul Dravid began his preparations for the Sri Lanka tri-series and the Champions Trophy in earnest, scoring a typically well-constructed innings of 63.
Dravid’s India Cements ended BSNL’s campaign with a 25-run win, making Thursday’s last league match against Air India (Red) a virtual quarterfinal.
Dravid slipped into the groove smoothly and watching him bat on Wednesday, there were no doubts about his ability to perform in the limited-overs version at the age of 36. It was as if he had not missed any of India’s last 49 ODIs - the number of matches since he last played the 50-over game in October 2007.
On a pitch that got slower, Dravid and S Badrinath (90) steadied the India Cements innings with their 127-run partnership for the third wicket in 151 deliveries.
BSNL, who issued a statement that they were not to be taken lightly through their batting display against Air India (Red) on Tuesday, preferred to chase.
It might not, however, have been a wise decision by captain Joginder Singh.
In a match reduced to 47 overs a side due to a rain-delayed start, India Cements posted 253 for five.
BSNL made a spirited reply, making 228/9, but were unable to stand up to the powerful Cements attack.
And theough Joginder threatened to take BSNL to the doorstep of a win with a 30-ball 34 coming in at number eight, it wasn’t to be.
In the 102 minutes that the Dravid-Badrinath duo was in the middle, it was disciplined batting at its best where technique was never compromised. Boundaries were few but the deliveries were not wasted, their strike-rates being in the early 80s.
It might have been poor advertisement for 50-over cricket, whose future looks bleak with cries to scrap it growing louder by the day. Not even 2.5 per cent of the 40,000-capacity stadium was filled for the two days of this tournament here.
There were no takers for tickets priced at Rs 50, 100 and 200. But, Dravid and Badrinath cared less.
They batted as the conditions demanded, and the team required them to. The late impetus was provided by S Suresh Kumar, whose two sixes, one each off off-break bowler Niranjan Behera and left-arm spinner Ankur Kakkar were a delight. Kumar made a 40-ball 42.