India Red 317 for 5 (Shaw 154, Karthik 111, Bhatt 3-83) v India Blue
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
All of 17, Prithvi Shaw added another chapter to his rise: a hundred on Duleep Trophy debut, which led India Red's dominant batting display on a dry, grippy red-soil pitch in Lucknow. Shaw's sparkling 154 followed a match-winning hundred on Ranji Trophy debut against Tamil Nadu in the semi-finals earlier this year. Breaking into the India Red XI in the absence of Sudip Chatterjee, Priyank Panchal and Rishabh Pant - who are all with the India A side - Shaw combined with his captain Dinesh Karthik - who made his second hundred in Duleep Trophy finals - and punished an India Blue attack that lacked penetration and direction for most parts.
Vidarbha offspinner Akshay Wakhare and Andhra left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt, though, helped India Blue regain some lost ground under the floodlights. They removed the two centurions and B Indrajith, who prodded a bat-pad catch to short leg off what turned out to be the last ball of the day.
The pitch had shown signs of deterioration as early as the sixth over when Wakhare bowled a flat dart on off stump and induced a weak drive from Akhil Herwadkar and a puff of dust from the surface. He found immediate turn - of the slow variety - as did Bhatt but they kept erring in lines and lengths in the first two sessions. Shaw was severe on anything that was remotely full and outside off, drilling drives between backward point and mid-off. All told, he hit 10 of his 19 boundaries in that arc. While some of his strokes were sublime, others were fraught with risk like the one that made him the youngest centurion in a Duleep Trophy final: an audacious slash over wide slip. Shaw celebrated by holding his hands aloft and tapping the bat on his chest.
He had endured a nervous start, though, letting his hands wander away from his body, and having his splice jarred by fast offcutters and short deliveries from Ishant Sharma and Pankaj Singh. Shaw then bedded in and got stuck into Ishant, taking him for 36 off 49 balls, including seven fours. His Mumbai team-mate Herwadkar, who was more assured in defence, was happy to ride in Shaw's slipstream. They added 74 for the first wicket before Herwadkar set his sights on a non-existent single and was run out for 25, 10 minutes before tea.
Bhatt then had Suryakumar Yadav nicking a catch to slip with the fifth ball after the break. Instead of tightening their grip, Bhatt and Wakhare conceded 48 runs in the ten overs they bowled in tandem after tea. Karthik, in particular, threw them off their lengths with signature sweeps and reverse sweeps. He pressed on to bring up his fifty off 69 balls with a fierce upper cut to the third-man boundary.
Shaw, at the other end, continued to drive on the up, and India Blue captain Suresh Raina threw down the gauntlet by installing two gullies. The Mumbai batsman took on the challenge and punched Jaydev Unadkat into the gap between the two fielders. By the end of the second session, Raina had deployed as many as eight bowlers, including himself.
India Red's tempo, though, dipped in an extended last session, which saw several interruptions: repairs on the bowlers' run-ups and landing areas, comfort breaks, and Karthik needed medical attention for cramps. That the pink ball skidded on under lights might have also contributed to the slowdown. Bhatt and Wakhare bowled largely in line with the stumps and gave away only 23 in nine overs after the dinner break. Karthik then found a release by foraying down the track and driving Bhatt against the break through midwicket. As he approached the nineties, he struggled to run between the wickets and even collapsed twice.
Karthik reached his 27th first-class century and second in three matches when he pulled Unadkat to the midwicket boundary in the 77th over. He followed it with a deft dab to third man and a short-arm swat over square leg. Just as he looked set to crank up the tempo again, Wakhare pinned him in front for 111 with a quicker offbreak and ended a 211-run stand. Three overs later, Bhatt drew Shaw forward with flight, created distance between the bat and the pitch of the ball with dip, and shaved the outside edge with sharp turn. Shaw, having thrilled a small crowd with his eye-catching strokeplay, exited for 154 off 249 balls. Bhatt proceeded to dismiss Indrajith - fresh off a double-hundred in his previous game - with an arm ball to embolden his side on an otherwise sapping day.