Ravindra Jadeja finished with figures of 10-171 to give India Blue an outright victory on Day 5 of the final of the Duleep Trophy. India Red, needing to last the day for a respectable draw, collapsed to a measly total of 161 after their first-innings lead had already given India Blue the trophy.
After just under 35 overs were bowled on a rain-washed Day 4, India Blue began the final day with a mood to waste no time and in search of quick runs.
India Blue stay on top of their game
With the previous day's lead of 476 runs, India Blue pushed their lead beyond 500 before declaring at 179/5 and inviting India Red to bat with two and half sessions remaining in the day and a target of 517. Pacer Pankaj Singh bowled another top class spell to trouble openers Abhinav Mukund and Shikhar Dhawan as his seaming delivery struck Mukund on the shoulder forcing him to leave the field.
Sudip Chatterjee then went for a sweep on Jadeja's bowling giving away an easy catch for Abhimanyu Mithun. Shikhar Dhawan was then removed by Gautam Gambhir's excellent catch off Parvez Rasool, leaving India Red reeling at 49 for 2 at tea.
Jadeja reigns supreme
With the pitch offering much more turn than the previous four days, Jadeja and Karn Sharma stuck to their line of pitching their balls mostly on the middle thus making it more difficult for India Red. Yuvraj Singh soon departed as he attempted a sweep off Jadeja but was caught at deep midwicket.
Gurkeerat Singh, Stuart Binny, Ankush Bains all went for extravagant heaves gifting away wickets for the spinners. First-innings hero Amit Mishra also was dismissed by Jadeja while Karn Sharma removed Ankush Bains and Pradeep Sangwan. Abhinav Mukund's injury meant that he would not return to bat as Jadeja wrapped up the innings by removing Nathu Singh for an lbw.
With the win, India Blue have won the first pink-ball tournament held on Indian soil although the experiment needs to run for a longer while before conclusions are reached. However, another significant question that will remain unanswered after this trophy is why Gautam Gambhir remains an outcast for the national team despite his stellar performances and gutsy captaincy all through the tournament – and in fact all through the IPLs of recent years as well.