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Brilliant Washington fires India Red to title

India Red 483 (Shaw 154, Karthik 111, Bhatt 4-154, Wakhare 3-95) and 208 (Indrajith 59, Wakhare 4-66, Bhatt 4-77) beat India Blue 299 (Abhimanyu 127, Unadkat 83, Washington 5-94, Gohil 5-121) and 229 (Bhatt 51, Washington 6-87, Gohil 3-102) by 163 runs

Washington Sundar capped off a memorable match with career-best figures of 6 for 87 as India Red wrapped up a 163-run win over India Blue to lift the 2017-18 Duleep Trophy on the fourth day in Lucknow.

It was Washington's second five-wicket haul of the match, coming on the back of 5 for 94 in Blue's first innings, and gave him a first-class-best match haul of 11 for 181. The wickets came in addition to a first-innings knock of 88, and 42 in the second that lifted Red from 58 for 4 and recover to 208, setting Blue an improbable 393 to win.

On a deteriorating fourth-day track, characterised by length balls smashing into the batsman's faces and the occasional grubber, Red did not bring on a pacer for one of the 48 overs that Blue's final innings spanned.

Blue's pursuit of the target was launched by Ishan Kishan's adventurous 18 that was highlighted by charges down the track and aggressive swipes. Washington snuffed it out in the fifth over, getting one to straighten off the rough and knock the top of off. Five overs later, Gohil slid one into the pads of Abhimanyu Easwaran and had the lbw shout go in his favour despite the ball seeming to be missing leg.

In all, the opening partnership between Washington and Gohil lasted 22 overs. Washington eventually made way for the part-time offspin of Akhil Herwadkar in the 23rd over, but that was only to effect a change of ends for him.

Red reaped the benefits of the move almost immediately as in 16 deliveries after the change, Washington struck thrice. He found the pad of Suresh Raina, who was caught rooted to the crease, and Manoj Tiwary, who played across the line. With that, Blue had lost their two most experienced batsmen, marking the beginning of the end. KS Bharat offered a bat-pad to short leg and Jaydev Unadkat barely played out the hat-trick ball, nearly sending a catch into the hands of backward short leg. The fifth arrived with Deepak Hooda closing the face early to pop a leading edge to first slip.

With Red bulldozing towards a rapid finish, Bhargav Bhatt slogged his way to a maiden List A half-century. Though the start was chancy, with plenty of mistimed hits and close chances, Bhatt eventually found his timing and started clearing the boundaries emphatically. Bhatt was punishing on anything within his swinging arc, collecting all his boundaries - one four and five sixes - through the long-on and deep midwicket region.

Ishant Sharma, too, showed uncharacteristic intent to go over the top, and together the two added 33 for the ninth wicket. Given how far away the target was, however, Red hardly broke a sweat. Bhatt's 41-ball 51 ended in the most unfortunate fashion, a full-blooded cut deflecting off the arm of silly point and lobbing towards the bowler. He had helped add 51 for the last two wickets.

Red began the day with an overall lead of 371, which, given the presence of loose soil and pronounced footmarks, already spelled ominous signs for Blue. The early explosions off the rough reconfirmed that batting on the track would be a mug's game. And sure enough, it took all of 28 minutes and 35 deliveries to wrap up the Red innings. Washington fell off the second ball of the day for his overnight 42, giving Bhatt his fourth wicket. Akshay Wakhare also finished with the same tally, having Siddarth Kaul hole out to long-on and Basil Thampi stumped in the same over to finish the innings.