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India Blue leave it too late against spirited Red

It was an evening when lesser-known players overshadowed the individual efforts of the established ones, including the rejuvenated Ishant Sharma, reports G Krishnan.

cricket Updated: Oct 09, 2009 02:40 IST
G Krishnan

It was an evening when lesser-known players overshadowed the individual efforts of the established ones, including the rejuvenated Ishant Sharma. Maharashtra's Harshad Khadiwale and Jharkhand's Ishank Jaggi, threw away the opportunity to make big scores after having begun well in their Challengers debut.

Tamil Nadu’s Suresh Kumar ought have stayed till the end and taken India Blue home. His dismissal for 87, 13 shy of the target, led to an exciting finish, but Blue scraped through by one wicket with three balls to spare. S Badrinath’s India Red were bowled out for 248.

Suresh held Blue’s hopes, thriving in the company of the promoted Harbhajan Singh and later with Dhoni. Shouldering the responsibility after seeing both Harbhajan and Dhoni fall, the 24-year-old was at ease while tackling Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma.

Earlier, Khadiwale (55, 51b, 7x4), batting above Badrinath at number three, was up against India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh as early as the 11th over. The 21-year-old from Pune showed tremendous confidence and maturity required at this level. His exposure trips with Maharashtra Cricket Association to Bangladesh in May and Australia in June this year made him more confident. This offset the limited List A experience he had coming into this game. Any youngster, who has been involved in the run out of a senior player, especially the captain, is bound to get jittery. But not Khadiwale. After being involved in a mix-up that resulted in his Badrinath's dismissal, the Pune lad carried on to score his fifth half-century.

Jaggi, the 20-year-old from Jharkhand, derived strength from the presence of his illustrious State-mate in the opposition camp, Dhoni. Using his height to the advantage, Jaggi did not hesitate to step out to the spinners. Like Khadiwale, Jaggi (54, 51b, 5x4, 1x6) fell after reaching his fifty, trying to turn Yusuf Pathan to third man but ended up nicking into Naman Ojha's gloves. Khadiwale's and Jaggi's failure to make big might have cost Red some crucial runs in the end but they would have realised the importance of converting starts into big scores.