Master-blaster Sachin Tendulkar's heroic effort went in vain as India Reds pulled off sensational 21-run victory with 15 balls to spare over favourites and holders India Blues in the first match of the Challenger series.
India Blues needed 281 to win but the match was virtually put beyond their grasp by the 21st over with top four batsmen back in the pavilion but the left-handed pair of Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Mongia took up the revival act in a grand manner for about 19 overs.
Again the Blues were in a spot of bother with Mongia and Yuvraj Singh failing to stick to their goals, Blues chances of winning evaporated.
Hereabout, Irfan Pathan (19), Ravindra Jadeja (11) were run out and Ajit Agarkar (6) and Harbhajan were out cheaply to give victory to India Reds. Vikram Rajvir Singh (3/49), Murali Kartick (2/45) and Zaheer Khan (2/34) were the successful bowlers for India Reds.
Earlier, the fringe players, centurion Gautam Gambir (110 - 10 fours and a six) and Reds' captain, Venugopal Rao (67 - 9 fours), besides a neat 33 by Rohit Sharma, helped India Red to make 280 all out in 50 overs after opting to bat. For the Blues, Irfan Pathan (3/55), Munaf Patel (3/49) and Ajit Agarkar (2/57) shared the wickets.
The India Blues' (Seniors) struggle in the batting department seen in the Kuala Lumpur DLF Cup seems to be continuing.
Nothing about the first 10 overs of the Blue's innings hinted at the glut of runs that was to follow, as Murali Kartik and Romesh Powar bowled good first spells of three overs each and stemmed the flow of runs.
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were scoring at a brisk pace, at seven runs an over. But, they had to change gear adding only 24 runs in the next six overs with the spinners operating from the ends.
In fact, Sehwag, who seemed to have injured his ankle while turning around for a second run in the 13th over when his score was 23 and the team's 77 without loss had on-field medical attention, had a reprieve four runs later.
Going in for a mighty lofted shot, Sehwag skied the ball and Vikram Rajvir Singh had the ball slip out of his hands. However, Sehwag did not stay longer as he fell to a direct throw at the stumps on bowlers end by Sreesanth from mid wicket. His 28 contained two fours and the Blues were 96 for one in 16.1 overs.
On the other hand, Tendulkar, who was not resilient but was looking to be aggressive, had reached his fifty, 36 runs of it coming through fours and sixes (6 fours and 2 sixes) off 54 balls.