S Badrinath played the main hand, and Rahul Dravid his typical one-day knock, to help India Cements to a total their bowlers defended without too much trouble on a slow pitch. In the match reduced to 47 overs a side, Badrinath and Dravid scored half-centuries to recover from a slow start, but BSNL could not recover from a similarly slow start themselves.
Badrinath and Dravid came together early, and shared a 127-run stand to set up the big finish, which came through Suresh Kumar's breezy knock in the slog overs. BSNL's chase never really got going, with their openers struggling to score quickly off L Balaji and Sudeep Tyagi. It came to life with Uttar Pradesh's Anshul Kapoor attacking the India Cements spinners, but it faded when Kapoor missed an offbreak from Suresh, after he had scored a valiant first List A half-century.
The focus of the day was always going to be Dravid, who was playing his first competitive match since his comeback to India's ODI scheme of things. Dravid, though, promoted Badrinath to No. 3, but soon joined him as India Cements found themselves at 36 for 2 in 8.3 overs. Joginder Singh, who made his List A debut yesterday, and captain of BSNL, continued with his good form from yesterday, bowling his first seven overs for 14 runs and Abhinav Mukund's wicket with a slower ball.
Badrinath and Dravid, who started off with a boundary each early in their innings, played out the opening spells with due caution. Only three runs came in overs 11, 12 and 13, one of which was a maiden by Joginder. None of them wanted, typically, to hit out. As the Powerplay overs finished they started rotating the strike more often - in fact for 14 overs after their initial boundary hits they hit one four each. By the time the next boundary came, the score had unobtrusively moved along to 107 for 2 in 24 overs. Both opened up then, bringing up their fifties with boundaries, Badrinath lofting over mid-off and Dravid cutting past point.
The three spinners at Joginder's disposal disappointed, and cost BSNL a total of 128 in 22 overs between them. A ray of hope appeared for BSNL when both Dravid and Badrinath fell in quick succession after the batting Powerplay that got India Cements 31 runs. Dravid fell for 63, looking to paddle offspinner Niranjan Behera in the 34th over and losing his leg stump. Badrinath, 75 off 93 then, tried to force the pace, but fell on 90 when he tried to whip Behera in the 40th over.
But Suresh, then, provided the final impetus, hitting two massive sixes in his 40-ball 42 as India Cements added 63 after Badrinath's dismissal, in 7.3 overs.
Balaji and Tyagi put in a big effort on the lifeless track, Tyagi starting off with a maiden and Balaji supporting him with tight bowling. When spin was first introduced, BSNL had moved to 60 in 15 overs, during which time Dravid took a smart slip catch to send back Arindam Das, and Biswa Mohapatra ran himself out. But with the introduction of spin, Kapoor, who was 17 off 29, brought urgency into the innings. Six boundaries later, Kapoor brought up his 50 in 71 deliveries, and BSNL had got to 128 for 3 in 27 overs.
But with the match set up for a tight finish, Kapoor was done in by a sharp offbreak from Suresh, and his partner in crime, Ankur Kakkar, followed him next ball for a run-a-ball 23. Kakkar was the third batsman to have been run out, all BSNL's own making. India Cements accepted the gift with glee, and Suresh got Varun Kumar stumped in his next over, leaving BSNL with 118 to get with four wickets in hand.
There was another brief spark to come. Joginder, who hit three sixes in his 27 yesterday, slog-swept the second ball he faced for a six. Two more sixes were to follow, and even though he lost NS Negi in the interim, Joginder took BSNL close. When Balaji got him in the 40th over, with 57 still to get, that was that.
Read the reports from the other matches of day two of the Corporate Trophy here.