Rain plays spoilsport at Chennai
Rahul Dravid, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh all offered support to Virender Sehwag as the Blues raced to 210 for 4 in the 32nd over, before the showers began and the final of the Challenger series was eventually abandoned
Virender Sehwag tore into the India Red bowling
© Getty Images|
The Chennai weather has a long tradition of getting in the way of cricket matches, and today one more game was added to the list, when the final of the Challenger Trophy was called off due to thunder showers.
Rahul Dravid won the toss, chose to bat - as all teams have done in this tournament - and then saw Virender Sehwag lead the way for India Blue with a controlled, yet quickfire unbeaten 90 off 81 balls. Dravid, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh all offered support as the Blues raced to 210 for 4 in the 32nd over, before the showers began and sent the players scurrying for cover. They never returned to the field, leaving the trophy to be shared between the Blue and Red teams.
The two-and-a-half hours of action, though, was frenetic. Boundaries, edges, run-out chances, wides, acrobatic saves and dropped catches were all part of the mix as the Blues shrugged off the first-over dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar - caught driving a wide one to cover - to take charge.
The disappointment of seeing Tendulkar depart so early was quickly forgotten as Sehwag got into the act. It wasn't a typical Sehwag innings, though - he was quite restrained at the start, and was especially careful to defend against deliveries coming into him. However, whenever offered even slight width, he made the bowlers pay, square-driving and cutting with aplomb. Equally, when the bowlers pitched up, he flayed them through cover. The spinners made little impression on him as he carted Ramesh Powar over midwicket, and disdainfully thrashed the short stuff that Murali Kartik sent down. However, he cleverly mixed the big hits with the clever dabs and nudges, often with results which were as spectacular.
The flurry, though, began thanks to the Red's own profligacy, after the umpires opted to change the ball after 6.2 overs. Suddenly, both Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth, who had both bowled with a fair degree of control till then, struggled to control a ball which swung appreciably. Zaheer bowled four consecutive wides in the over, while Sreesanth sent down three in his next. A couple of them were beyond even Dinesh Karthik, the wicketkeeper, and suddenly the floodgates opened - the first 34 deliveries after the change fetched 51.
Dravid was the ideal foil, but he had to first overcome a scratchy start. He was almost caught first ball at short cover, then survived a run-out chance, edged a couple through the slips, and was clearly unhappy about the change in ball, having long conversations with umpire Bandekar. Gradually, though, he settled down, played with his customary poise, and was looking in command, when he was involved in a misunderstanding with Sehwag.
Yuvraj came in and timed the ball sublimely from the start, flicking and driving crisp boundaries before missing a full toss from Kartik. Mahendra Singh Dhoni joined Sehwag for what could have been a potentially destructive partnership, but before that the Chennai weather decided to have its say.
VRV Singh went for 51 in his seven overs here, but his two earlier performances - 4 for 54 against India Green and 3 for 49 against the Blues in the first game - were enough to win him the Man-of-the-Series award.
Sachin Tendulkar c Uthappa b Zaheer 0 (6 for 1)
Drove a full and wide one, good low catch at cover
Irfan Pathan c sub (Satish) b Zaheer 22 (55 for 2)
Full-blooded square-drive taken leaping high at backward point
Rahul Dravid run out (Uthappa/ Kartik) 44 (156 for 3)
Failed to respond quickly to a call for a run after Sehwag played to mid-off
Yuvraj Singh lbw b Kartik 27 (194 for 4)
Tried to sweep a full delivery on middle stump and missed
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo