It was lovely cricket on a lively pitch as B. Indrajith defied the odds to score a sparkling century to take India Red to 291 for nine against India Blue on the opening day of the second league match of Duleep Trophy at the Green Park here on Wednesday.
Watched by an appreciative bunch of spectators who were restricted to one stand, the 23-year-old Tamil Nadu batsman Indrajith thrived under the floodlights as he blended caution with aggression for a fruitful knock that was a joy to watch.
The groundsman Shiv Kumar had promised to give a good pitch that would help everyone and there was enough for the medium-pacers. Ankit Rajpoot and Jaydev Unadkat bowled their heart out to bag five wickets between them.
With skipper Suresh Raina making a breakthrough by bowling opener Sudip Chatterjee and later taking two superb catches, alternately diving to his right and left to help Unadkat to two wickets, the Blues were in the driving seat with Red on 205 for nine at the end of two sessions.
However, the joy was shortlived for Blues as the last batsman, Vijay Gohil, proved more than a match for the occasion as he gave enough support and confidence to Indrajith who hammered a dozen fours and two sixes to reach an improbable century. He scored 88 in the last session in partnership with the last three batsmen after the team was precariously placed at 160 for seven.
In a way, it was a mere continuation of Red’s dominant show as Priyank Panchal had scored a century in both the innings and captain Dinesh Karthik had scored one in the last match against India Green at Lucknow.
More than that, it was continuation of good times for the dynamic Indrajith as he had scores of 64 and 138 in his last first-class match against Gujarat earlier in the year. It was the fifth first-class century for Indrajith, who handled both the medium-pacers and spinners with equal poise and composure.
Apart from not having players like paceman Ishant Sharma, who was originally named in the squad, Blues lost the plot after having taken a stranglehold over the proceedings.
The Red openers had put on 70 for the first wicket. Karthik was upset as he was ruled out leg before when he looked set for another good knock.
Unlike Lucknow, when wickets tended to tumble in the cool evening, it was vibrant batting that greeted the faithful fans here, who wanted more when play stopped at 9 p.m. after 30 minutes of additional time.
B. Indrajith was thrilled to score a century and was honest to concede that he never expected to make it in this match after the team was placed in a tough situation.
“I had confidence in the last three batsmen. Basil Thampi and Vijay Gohil gave excellent support. I had confidence in them as I knew they can bat. Initially I shielded them a bit, but seeing that their defence was good, I was calculative with my strokes depending on the bowler and the field,” said Indrajith.
The Tamil Nadu batsman said that it was sound preparation this season with coaches S. Balaji and Madana Gopal that had helped him start so well.
India Red — 1st innings: Priyank Panchal lbw b Ankit Rajpoot 36, Sudip Chatterjee b Suresh Raina 34, Rahul Singh Gahlaut c Ishan Kishan b Ankit Rajpoot 7, Dinesh Karthik lbw b Bhargav Bhatt 15, B. Indrajith (batting) 120, Rishabh Pant b Akshay Wakhare 15, Karn Sharma c Ishan Kishan b Ankit Rajpoot 10, C.V. Milind b Manoj Tiwary 9, Siddharth Kaul c Suresh Raina b Jaydev Unadkat 13, Basil Thampi c Suresh Raina b Jaydev Unadkat 4, Vijay Gohil (batting) 22, Extras (b-2, lb-3, nb-1): 6; Total (for nine wkts. in 84 overs): 291.
Fall of wickets: 1-70, 2-74, 3-91, 4-99, 5-123, 6-138, 7-159, 8-195, 9-205.
India Blue bowling: Pankaj Rao 9-1-33-0, Ankit Rajpoot 18-2-44-3, Jaydev Unadkat 17-1-64-2, Bhargav Bhatt 24-0-79-1, Akshay Wakhare 12-1-47-1, Suresh Raina 2-0-10-1, Manoj Tiwary 2-0-9-1.