India Green v India Red, Challenger Trophy, 2nd match October 24, 2008

Rohit ton keeps Red's challenge alive

Cricinfo staff

India Red 263 for 5 (Rohit 117*) beat India Green 260 for 9 (N Ojha 96, Raina 58, Chawla 3-50) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Rohit Sharma's excellent 117 steered India Red to victory © Cricinfo Ltd
 

Having failed to chase 236 under lights against India Blue yesterday, India Red got their act together and beat India Green by five wickets in Cuttack. At the forefront of that win was a spin-induced collapse when Green looked set for 30 runs more, and an accomplished unbeaten century from Rohit Sharma when pursuing 261. Green - who boasted a good bowling attack - took key wickets to gain some momentum, but a missed stumping and a dropped catch allowed Rohit to seal a victory with seven deliveries to spare. At one stage Red needed 90 to win from 11 overs, before a match-winning partnership of 86 in 9.2 overs between Rohit and Abhishek Nayar changed all that.

A 75-run stand between Rohit and M Vijay - after Faiz Fazal was given out to one pitched outside leg stump - gave Red a good base. Vijay, who scored with 89 in the loss to Blue on Thursday, was slow off the blocks but opened up with consecutive boundaries off RP Singh. A flowing six over long-off followed before he was out in similar manner as yesterday, skipping out and lofting the ball down to long-on.

Having faced six quiet deliveries, Rohit teed off with a six, lofted over mid-off, and a square-driven four off consecutive deliveries from Gony. Further boundaries off Pankaj Singh, one punched off the back foot and the other whipped between midwicket and mid-on, were indication of his touch. He continued to time the ball well in his innings, despite the pressure of wickets falling and a climbing required-rate.

A missed stumping on 39, against Pragyan Ojha's left-arm spin, proved costly. Gony returned to dismissed S Badrinath (27) and Suresh Raina stemmed the momentum with the wicket of Manoj Tiwary, lbw trying to work one off his stumps. With Rohit on 67, short extra cover failed to hold onto a firm drive, and Rohit promptly celebrated with 14 runs in three balls.

The explosive association with Nayar proved crucial. Nayar shuffled around his crease and hit some pleasing boundaries, and the run-rate was back in control. At the other end Rohit eased into the 90s with a slog-sweep over midwicket. A ferocious pull off RP took him to 99 and he raised three figures with a steer to third man next ball. It took 110 deliveries but under pressure, he didn't change his game. With four runs to win from 11 balls Nayar (34 from 31 balls) sliced RP straight to point, but Rohit finished the match with one last sweet off-drive.

Earlier, a strong start from Green's top order was weakened by a dramatic collapse at the end. Green were well in control after an opening stand of 102 between Naman Ojha and Shikhar Dhawan, and 95 for the second wicket, before a double-wicket over from Piyush Chawla triggered a collapse of eight wickets in 9.1 overs.

The bowling was not great to start with, and Naman and Dhawan cashed in on wayward deliveries either side of the pitch before Dhawan tried to sweep offspinner Mohnish Parmar over square leg in the 20th over. Naman and Raina added 95 at a good clip, hustling the fielders even though boundaries were hard to find during the middle stage of their partnership. Both played the spinners well, using their feet to clip the ball wide of the men in the circle.

Chawla got some turn on a sluggish track, with the odd ball staying low, and began the slide. Shortly after a lovely slog-sweep from Raina went for six, Naman was on his way back for 96. Chawla tossed the ball up on the stumps and Naman swung wildly into the deep, where Vijay judged the catch to perfection. Three deliveries later, Chawla sent Yusuf Pathan back for a first-ball duck, Fazal taking an exceptional catch at wide long-on.

Raina's fifty came up off 59 deliveries but he became Chawla's third wicket, slogging to a tumbling Tiwary, who then took a far more straightforward catch at short midwicket in the next over to get Mohammad Kaif. Nayar's first fours overs had cost 37 runs but he came back well and was rewarded for bowling stump-to-stump. Praveen Kumar bowled tightly at the death and picked up two in one over.

Green need to beat Blue to make it to Sunday's final. Since Red conceded a bonus point in their defeat to Blue, they have three points from two games. The only way they can make it to the final is if Blue defeat Green on Sunday.

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