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Seniors beat India ~~B~~, clinch Challenger Cup

Published: Friday, October 14, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Mohali:India Seniors produced a strong performance to defeat India 'B' by three-wickets and win the Challenger Series limited overs cricket final for the N K P Salve Trophy at the PCA Stadium here last night.

After bundling out India 'B' for a modest 177, the Seniors rode on a robust knock by Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan to knock off the required runs with 11 overs to spare in the floodlit encounter.

It was sort of coming of age for Vidyut, son of former Tamil Nadu player Sivaramakrishnan, who cracked 87 from 107 balls with 15 fours.

Vidyut's stroke-filled innings more than made up for the early loss of Sachin Tendulkar who, after a run-a-ball 22 comprising four fours, was consumed by a Piyush Chawla googly.

The summit clash turned out to be a damp squib with India 'B' falling flat with a dismal performance that came on the heels of a stunning victory over India 'A' yesterday.

Perhaps the task of sustaining the level over three back to back matches, they had played the Seniors in the league encounter on Tuesday, proved to be too much for the team comprising mainly aspiring youngsters.

They suffered a top and lower collapse with seven of their batsmen falling for single digit scores. They owed their total to a 50-run sixth-wicket partnership between the diminutive Parthiv Patel and Ravikant Shukla.

Patel, who had struck a quickfire 53 in a losing cause against the Seniors in the league encounter, batted once again with grit to make 39 off 62 balls with six fours.

Shukla played a mature knock in support of Patel before he himself ran out of partners to remain unbeaten on 26.

Zaheer Khan (3-43) did the early damage while left arm spinner Murali Kartik (5-29) sliced through the tail with wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh claiming four dismissals including three stumpings.

For Vidyut, it is a familiar tale of Indian cricket where a slow bowler goes on to become a top order batsman.

But the left-hander had shown more potential with the bat than with his slow left arm stuff right from his maiden appearance in a first class match.

It was in 2000-01 in a Ranji Trophy knockout match against Delhi that Vidyut became the first number 11 batsman to score a century in the history of the competition.

He made 115 out of 122 balls and added 158 runs for the last wicket as Tamil Nadu batted the visitors out of the pre-quarterfinal.

It was not take long before the youngster began to command a place in the state team purely as an opening batsman, in which he has scored two hundreds and nine 50s.

The 23-year-old showed the same penchant of four years ago for big shots today. Vidyut showed good balance when handling the pacers and complimented it with neat footwork when playing the spinners.

Vidyut and Tendulkar provided the Seniors with an explosive start with a 46-run stand before the latter failed to spot a googly from leg spinner Chawla that knocked his leg stump.

Tendulkar had in his brief stay at the crease showed signs of his touch class with a few rasping shots and it was enough to send the few hundreds of fans into a frenzy.

Local hero Yuvraj Singh became Chawla's second victim, caught at forward shortleg by Ravikant Shukla.

The middle order did not exactly put up a strong show for the Seniors but the target was too short for India 'B' to have an impact from there on.

Vidyut himself fell with five runs to go, playing all over a Sreesanth delivery.

Earlier, there was little sign of the top order collapse to come when Robin Uthappa struck Zaheer Khan's first ball of the match to midwicket fence.

When the Karnataka lad flicked him off the pads for one more boundary to squareleg, it seems the Baroda paceman was yet to come out of the 'final jinx' that gripped him in 2003 World Cup.

But Zaheer got a boost when Uthappa drove lavishly at a wide delivery straight to Mohammad Kaif at short extra cover.

Zaheer struck his second blow two overs later when Sridharan Sriram tried to turn him to the on side and ended up with a leading edge to Venugopala Rao.

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