Piyush Chawla sizzles with bat in tied final
India Green 238 for 8 (Harbhajan 49*, Kaif 41) tied with India Red 238 (Chawla 92, Harbhajan 3-37, Abdulla 3-37)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Piyush Chawla was run out off what turned out to be the last ball of a dramatic final, as India Red matched India Green's score of 238 to share the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. India Red were out of the game when they lost their fifth wicket in the 23rd over with just 102 on the board, but Chawla held the lower order together and whittled down the target. When Bhargav Bhatt was ninth out, they still needed 26 off 16 balls, and Chawla's dare-devilry almost got them over the line.
The match boiled down to the last over with Chawla chasing 17 off left-arm seamer Samad Fallah, who was enduring a horrid night. A dot ball, a slogged couple and a wide reduced it to 14 off 4, with Chawla having to hit a boundary to stay in the game. He responded by lofting Fallah over mid-off to make it 10 off 3, before pushing two more through long-on. Fallah's penultimate ball was fuller on off stump, and Chawla launched it over the sightscreen for a six that made India Red favourites for the first time in the last quarter of the game.
With two needed off the last ball, Chawla was set on running, regardless of what happened. As it transpired, Fallah bowled a wide down the leg side. The non-striker Jaydev Unadkat rightly declined the single but Chawla had charged across to the bowler's end, allowing CM Gautam to break the stumps and tie the game. The ending was reminiscent of the finish to an India-Zimbabwe ODI in 1997, when Robin Singh was the last man out off a wide, which left the scores level. The finish also had similarities to the famous tie involving Lance Klusener and Allan Donald in the 1999 World Cup semi-final against Australia.
That such an electric denouement was possible was down to Chawla's second score in the 90s in a century-less List-A career. By the time he took guard, Abhimanyu Mithun and Harbhajan Singh had made incisions through the top order to push the chase into freefall. Chawla kept fighting, though Iqbal Abdulla kept striking at the other end. Chawla worked the fields to move to 40 off 48 balls by the end of 40 overs before stepping up. His first six came off T Suman in the 41st over, and he began to target Fallah towards the closing stages, picking up two fours in the 46th over. Bhatt's exit in the 48th left India Green a wicket away from victory, but Chawla forced them to share the trophy.
India Green's batting effort was an equally up-and-down affair on a pitch that offered spin and bounce. S Anirudha and Mohammad Kaif were the only top-order batsmen to come to terms with the surface, before a triple-strike from the seamers in the middle overs reduced India Green from 134 for 3 to 151 for 6. Harbhajan Singh hauled his side out of the doldrums with a responsible innings, where he overcame his propensity for flashy strokes.
Tail-enders Sumit Narwal, Abdulla and Abhimanyu Mithun played around Harbhajan, who made an unbeaten 49 off 54 balls despite not slogging till the very end. The headlines, however, were stolen by the batting efforts of an opposition spinner.