Bangalore: India Blue wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik blasted an undefeated 116 to guide India Blue to a comfortable six-wicket victory against Reds in the title clash of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy Series at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
Chasing a tough 269 posted by India Red, Virender Sehwag-led India Blue romped home with nine overs to spare.
Karthik, who was axed from the Indian team for the first two ODIs for the forthcoming series against Pak, proved a point to the selectors with a majestic innings. His 91-ball knock was studded with 14 hits to the fence and two over it.
Karthik was associated in two fruitful partnerships. Firstly he alongwith Raina, revived Blues after their team suffered early blues losing three wickets in the first ten overs, with 48-run stand for the fourth wicket and then he was involved in an unbeaten 168-run fifth wicket stand with Niraj Patel, who struck a delightful 62 from 70 balls.
Earlier India Red posted a healthy 269 in 50 overs, thanks to a fluent 77-ball 82 from Delhi opener Gautam Gambhir and yet another half-century from Badrinath, and surge from the lower-order batsmen in the death overs.
Gambhir (82) knitted a crucial 111 runs for the fourth wicket with Badrinath (55 off 88) and the surge in the death overs from tail-enders assured Reds a healthy total.
The India and Delhi left-hander, who is enjoying a purple patch, hit seven boundaries and a six over long-off in his chanceless 77-ball knock.
Blues' leg-spinner Amit Mishra plucked three wickets including the prized scalp of Gambhir in the middle overs to peg Reds back while Joginder and YoMahesh claimed two wickets apiece.
Opting to bat first on the two paced wicket, Reds got off to a disastrous start, losing opener Praveen Kumar and one down Karan Goel with just 11 runs on the board. Both the wickets were taken by the seamer Joginder Sharma, who castled the timberwork of Praveen with a peach of an inswinger in the second over of the day and then had Goel trapped leg before wicket for 4.
The next man in Mohd Kaif played with a sense of urgency. He made 22 off 19 studded with four boundaries before playing a airy shot off fullish delivery from Bose only to find a safe pair of hands of Rahane stationed at shot covers.
This brought yet another man in form Badri to join Gambhir at the crease and the two took no time to settle down on the two paced strip.
Gambhir fresh from his match winning knock in the game looked in prime touch as his timing and placement was spot on while his partner struggled early on but adjusted himself soon to the conditions and played a second fiddle.
Gambhir played some eye catching cuts and pulls off Bose and Joginder which were worth miles to go to watch as he along with Badri consolidated Reds'.
Railways gloveman Mahesh Rawat, 43* off 59, anchored the Reds' innings in the end overs while Ojha and Mundhe played a little cameo knocks to bolster their side to a good total.
India Red 269 all out in 50 overs ( Gambhir 82, Badrinath 55, Mahesh Rawat 43; Amit Mishra 3 for 45, Joginder 2 for 41, Yomahesh 2 for 56) lost to India Green 270 for 4 in 41 overs ( Karthik 116 n o, Neeraj Patel 62 n o, Raina 50; Mundhe 1 for 34, Siddarth Trivedi 1 for 44) by six wickets.