Bhuvneshwar leads Blue to title
India Blue 274 for 9 (Pandey 62, Awana 4-39, Bhatia 4-59) beat Delhi 224 (Milind 54, Bisht 54*, Bhuvneshwar 4-39) by 50 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
India Blue's bowlers, led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, thwarted Delhi's powerful batting order to win the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy in Indore. India Blue batted first and put up 274, which seemed an inadequate total given the 300-plus scores in the previous two matches, but within the first 10 overs of the chase the four biggest names in the Delhi batting line-up were dismissed.
Bhuvneshwar had Gautam Gambhir toe-ending a catch to Manish Pandey at point in the first over and had the in-form Unmukt Chand bowled by an indipper in the fifth. The next big wicket went to Vinay Kumar, who had Virender Sehwag undone by an incutter after a series of outswingers. That left Virat Kohli as the major threat for India Blue, and though he seemed to be in good touch with three successive fours off Vinay, Kohli was run out off the next ball after a mix-up with Milind Kumar.
At 46 for 4, Delhi were nearly out of the game, and despite half-centuries from Milind and Puneet Bisht, India Blue coasted to a 50-run victory.
Unlike Delhi's top order, India Blue were much more solid at the start of the innings. Akshath Reddy and Naman Ojha put on 53 for the first wicket, after which Manish Pandey scored his second consecutive half-century to guide them through the middle overs.
India Blue's two biggest threats - Yuvraj Singh and Abhishek Nayar - didn't contribute much. Yuvraj edged between the keeper and slip when on 0, but couldn't capitalise on the chance provided as he was lbw to Rajat Bhatia for 29. Nayar has been in red-hot form in the previous two matches, but he too fell lbw to Bhatia, for 12. Bhatia capped a terrific tournament with four top-order wickets, but once he finished his spell in the 39th over, India Blue regained some momentum.
Ankit Bawne hit a 44-ball 37 and Piyush Chawla slammed 42 off just 32 deliveries before Vinay rounded off the innings with a six and a four in the final over. That late hitting lifted India Blue, but it still seemed insufficient till the new-ball spells from Bhuvneshwar and Vinay.