Pujara ton in vain in high-scoring thriller
India A 335 for 4 (Dhawan 152, Uthappa 67, Karthik 66) beat India B 331 for 5 (Pujara 158*, Anirudha 63, Awana 3-69) by four runs
A low-scoring one-sided game on Saturday was followed by a high-scoring thriller in the Challenger Trophy in Rajkot. An unbeaten 158 by Cheteshwar Pujara, who kept India B in the hunt for their target of 336 through planned batting, went in vain as they lost by four runs. Racing to reach the target at the death, the duo of Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja needed 23 runs off 12 deliveries to pull off a win, but an economical seven-run penultimate over, including Jadeja's wicket, by the left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla pegged them back. The next over saw four singles off the first four deliveries, followed by a spilled chance by Ajinkya Rahane at deep midwicket that fell over the boundary for a six. But that didn't matter as Pujara could only drive the last delivery towards long-off for a single.
India B had started the chase well with the openers S Anirudha and Murali Vijay starting positively by going at nearly six per-over. After Vijay got out in the eighth over, Anirudha put on 80 runs with No. 3 Pujara, and ended up with seven boundaries and two sixes in his knock of 63. Pujara was guiding the chase well, combining with the middle order to effect crucial partnerships. Robin Bist, fresh from a century in the Irani Cup, scored 38, and Baba Aparajith and Ravindra Jadeja also gave him support to help India B get closer to the target. Towards the death, Pujara and Jadeja accelerated the scoring, adding 76 in seven overs but it wasn't enough to see them through. This knock was Pujara's second big score in two games - he had scored 78 in the Irani Cup.
Another player registered two big scores in two games. Shikhar Dhawan followed up his unbeaten 99 against Bengal with 152 to guide his team to 335 for 4. The opening stand with Robin Uthappa, who scored 67, laid the foundation for a tall score as the duo were separated when India A had scored 146 in the 27th over. Smartly, the batsmen utilized the platform by scoring heavily at the death, courtesy Dhawan, and Dinesh Karthik, who scored 66 off 40 deliveries. The two added 94 runs in nine overs to push India A way past the 300-run mark.
Parvinder Awana was the highest wicket-taker across both teams with three wickets, including two of India B's openers. Umesh Yadav and Abhimanyu Mithun bowled 11 overs each from either team, as per the new rules in domestic one-day matches which allow one bowler to bowl a maximum of 12 overs.
India B would have to come back fresh from the defeat to take on Bengal, who were comprehensively beaten by India A earlier, on Monday.