India Blue continued their dominance in the ongoing Duleep Trophy as they ended the Day 1 of the final at 362/3. Mayank Agarwal and Gautam Gambhir put up their fourth consecutive century partnership followed by a century by Cheteshwar Pujara which has put India Blue in a commanding position.
Brief Scores: India Blue 362/3 in 90 overs (Pujara 111*(164), Gambhir 94(145); Binny 1/54)
On a completely dry and bald wicket which doesn’t have anything for the bowlers, India Blue skipper Gautam Gambhir called it right and opted to bat first. His decision reaped dividends in the form of runs, and the Red bowlers also complemented him by their toothless approach.
Gambhir and Agarwal do it again
Openers, Mayank Agarwal and Gautam Gambhir continued their fine run of form and it seems, nothing other than a miracle could stop them from forging century partnerships. After completing their fourth successive century partnership in the tournament, Mayank Agarwal looked a bit edgy. A change of bowling provided the Yuvraj Singh led Red side the breakthrough they were looking for, when Stuart Binny forced Agarwal to drive an away-going delivery to extra cover which was pouched gladly by Shikhar Dhawan.
The dismissal of Agarwal pumped up the Red team, and Kuldeep Yadav castled Gambhir to give his side the second breakthrough towards the end of the second session. Gambhir’s innings of 94 runs was embellished with eight hits to the fence.
Pujara joins the party
Cheteshwar Pujara, at the other end, looked fluent with his stroke play, and he got Rohit Sharma as his partner after the dismissal of his captain. The Saurashtra batsman struck a boundary off Amit Mishra to get to his 10,000 first class runs. Rohit Sharma fell for 30, top edging Amit Mishra's leg break into the hands of his fellow Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan.
Joining Pujara, former Indian wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik showed his attacking prowess from the onset. He scored 55 off just 68 deliveries with an impressive strike rate of more than 80 that exerted tremendous amount of pressure on the opposition captain Yuvraj Singh, who was already worried by the team’s disastrous bowling and fielding performance.
Pujara showed his sturdy approach in his game and completed his 33rd first class century by hitting a four through the covers before the close of play and remained unbeaten on nelson at stumps.