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Chand powers Delhi to Challenger Trophy final

A superb century by opening batsman Unmukt Chand powered Delhi into the final of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy by drubbing India Red by 112 runs at the Holkar Cricket Stadium here Saturday.

cricket Updated: Sep 29, 2013 01:55 IST

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir would do well to slip a thank you note under the door of Unmukt Chand's hotel room, and that of skipper Virat Kohli, Rajat Bhatia and young Milind Kumar.

The two stalwarts of Indian cricket, with careers on life support, did their bit to earn the ire of the two national selectors present here. On a batting surface, Gambhir misjudged the length of the delivery to fall miscuing a pull for 20 while an impatient Sehwag (8) tried to play inside out against left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and was bowled.

But thanks to the level-headed Chand, whose century helped Delhi beat India Red by 112 runs and enter final of the Challenger Trophy on Saturday, Sehwag and Gambhir will get another shot at redemption.

Big relief
The moment the experienced Bhatia finished the Delhi innings with a mighty six, the coaching staff and some players rushed out to greet him. The coaching staff have their detractors back home, and they acknowledged the favour.

"It was great fun today. One star after the other came and I enjoyed," said Chand, who saw Gambhir, Virat and Sehwag join him but get out.

Impressed by his batsmen's effort last evening against a strong India Blue bowling attack, India Red skipper Yusuf Pathan opted to field, fancying his side's ability to chase down any total against a rather weak attack.

Runs flowed off Delhi's bats, even against Umesh Yadav, and Chand, looking in good touch, played audacious shots. An an upper cut for six stood out. His Bharat Nagar academy mate Gambhir too was finding his groove when he fell trying to step on the gas.

Kohli (63) and Chand got into the act with the skipper milking the spinners. But the 93-run stand ended when Nadeem foxed Kohli in the air and then had Sehwag - batting at No 4 - who pushed too hard to be bowled.

Rescue act
The crowd that hung on saw some lesser known batsmen in action as Chand shifted gears and played the anchor. "Obviously, when those stars were around, I could play my shots."

Milind added 120 with the victorious U-19 World Cup skipper but the best came from Bhatia, whose mauling of India pacemen - 15 off Umesh Yadav and 24 off Abhimanyu Mithun's last over - took it beyond the reach of Red.Varun Sood, the left-arm spinner then snared 5/68, after Ashish Nehra struck early.

No wonder Sehwag was all smiles as he signalled to someone in the dressing room to leave or go to sleep as Red, four-down at that time, limped on with Abhinav Mukund and Gurkeerat Mann making fifties.

Brief scores: Delhi 342/6 (Chand 119, Kohli 63, Milind 57, Bhatia 40no; Mithun 3/81) bt India Red 230 in 40.1 overs (Gurkeerat 83, Mukund 64; Sood 5/84, Nehra 4/38).