Fiery Yusuf stars in Reds win
India Red 252 for 7 (Yusuf 63, Mishra 42) beat India Blue 251 for 9 (Rahane 84, Jadeja 58, Tyagi 3-40) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A brutal innings by Yusuf Pathan and some spirited determined batting by the India Reds middle and lower orders helped them upstage India Blues by three wickets in Indore. The opening game of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy was a closely-fought one for much of its duration but Yusuf's knock and the subsequent consolidation by Monish Mishra and Iqbal Abdulla tilted the scales decisively in India Reds' favour. The dismissal of Saurabh Tiwary in India Reds' chase of 252 had reduced them to a precarious 89 for 4 but Yusuf's counterattack brought them back into contention.
Yusuf's exploits for Rajasthan Royals in the middle order are well known and the crowd in Indore was treated to an air show, with Yusuf smashing five sixes and as many fours in a knock of 63 off just 30 balls. He singled out the spinners for treatment, warming up with a six and a four off Piyush Chawla in the 21st over and then smacking him for 16 in three balls in the 26th. Yuvraj Singh replaced Chawla but he, too, was not spared. Yusuf reached his half-century by drilling the bowler to the straight boundary and launching him for consecutive sixes over deep square leg and midwicket. His stay ended when Ravindra Jadeja trapped him in front but Mishra and Abdulla then took over. With the required run-rate under control, the pair rotated the strike with ease, piercing the gaps to accumulate singles and twos while striking the timely boundary. They added 62 to all but confirm India Reds' win.
India Blues' decision to bat appeared to have backfired when a couple of run outs at the start of their innings and an early strike by Vinay Kumar had reduced them to 31 for 3. But Ajinkya Rahane, fresh from a big century in the Irani Cup against Rest of India, led the recovery with a well-paced 84, laced with nine fours and a six. He was supported by Manoj Tiwary in a 105-run stand before Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha contributed some valuable runs at the death to post a competitive score. But their efforts proved inadequate.