Indore, Sep 26: Virender Sehwag of the old was on show at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Thursday. But his 38-ball 59 was not enough to take Delhi to victory. India Blue won by 18 runs in the Challenger Trophy opener.
Sehwag, batting at number 4, was in good nick for his half century with nine fours and one six but India Blue's bowlers successfully defended 270. Rajat Bhatia (65, 89 balls, 4x4, 1x6) and number 10 batsman Ashish Nehra (37 not out, 41 balls, 1x4, 2x6) fought hard till the end.
Last pair of Nehra and Parvinder Awana brought them close but the latter was bowled by R Vinay Kumar in the 48th over to close out the match. Replying to India Blue's 270/6, Delhi were bowled out for 252.
The damage was done early by Bhuvneshwar, who removed opener Mohit Sharma for a duck in the first over and then sent back Delhi captain Virat Kohli for five runs.
It looked all over for Delhi at 169/8 in 34 overs but Bhatia and Nehra had a 56-run partnership. Bhatia was bowled by Ankit Rajpoot, almost ending Delhi's chances. However, Nehra and Awana almost pulled off an unlikely win but it was not to be.
Earlier, India Blue were dealt huge blow with their captain Yuvraj Singh ruled out of today's match. Despite his absence, India Blue posted a competitive score of 270/6 in 50 overs thanks to half centuries from Abhishek Nayar and Akshath Reddy.
Yuvraj pulled out of the match this morning due to a back spasm. Paceman R Vinay Kumar was named the skipper for the tie.
Delhi captain Virat Kohli won the toss and invited India Blue to bat first. Nayar top scored with 91 while Akshath, opening the batting, made 53.
India Blue were in a spot of bother at 99/4 in 24.2 overs. But Nayar's 73-ball knock with 11 fours and a six and useful contributions from Piyush Chawla (40 not out, 50 balls, 3x4) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (29 not out, 23 balls, 2x4, 1x6) took the team past 250.
Chawla and Kumar had an unfinished partnership of 48 for the seventh wicket in 7.1 overs.
Rajat Bhatia was the most successful bowler for Delhi with 3/46 in 10 overs.
India Blue 270/6 in 50 overs (Abhishek Nayar 91, Akshat Reddy 53, Piyush Chawla 40 not out, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 29 not out, Naman Ojha 23, Rajat Bhatia 3/46) beat Delhi 252 all out in 47.5 overs (Virender Sehwag 59, Rajat Bhatia 65, Ashish Nehra 37 not out, Puneet Bisht 23, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/58, Ankit Rajpoot 3/44)