The senior India players disappointed the handful of spectators who had assembled at the VCA Stadium at Jamtha.
The Challenger Series for the N. K. P. Salve Trophy, on the whole, might have been a low-key affair with hardly anybody, other than those involved in it, showing any interest, and the quality of cricket that was dished out by India Blue was nothing more than that of a lower division team.
The pitch should not be blamed for India Blue being bowled out for 84. After all, the same team had amassed 351 for two on the adjacent pitch a day earlier.
Outstanding bowling by the Red medium-pacers — Sudeep Tyagi, Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma — complemented by horrendous shot selection led to an early finish.
Red clinched the title by seven wickets, and the entire match lasted only 47.4 overs. Off-spinner R. Ashwin too came to the forefront, displaying his variety including what seemed like a variation of Ajantha Mendis's ‘carrom’ ball.
It was the last chance for the players to impress before the selectors decide on the squad for the ODI series against Australia and Yusuf Pathan and Abhishek Nayar could count themselves lucky if they are retained in the team.
But Munaf and Tyagi did their chances no harm while Ishant, sharing the new ball in 50 overs for the first time in a while, regained his confidence that was low following his poor outings in Sri Lanka and South Africa.
He had been bowling as first change of late in internationals where Dhoni thought he'd be effective. Tyagi, opening the bowling for the first time in this tournament, took two wickets in his first three deliveries. And there began Blue's woes.
Red captain S. Badrinath seemed to come up with one master move after another. He let Ishant share the new ball and kept Munaf for later.
While Ishant was not lucky to get wickets in the first spell, he unsettled the batsmen and was not easy to score off.
Munaf, coming at second change after Ashwin, provided the knockout punch, picking up two in his first over while Ishant polished off the Blue innings.