Duleep Trophy: India Blue makes a steady start

Gautam Gambhir’s concerted effort to dig himself in and study the playing conditions closely was the outstanding feature of the curtailed first day’s play of the Duleep Trophy league match between India Red and India Blue here on Monday.

GOING STRONG: India Blue openers Mayank Agarwal and Gautam Gambhir notched up half-centuries before rain halted the proceedings. Photos: Sandeep Saxena

When rain lashed the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex, India Blue, surprisingly put in by Yuvraj Singh, was 105 for no loss with Gambhir (51) going strong in the company of Mayank Agarwal (53). The sudden deluge left the venue flooded, washing out the day’s remaining play and raising doubts over the possibility of the game resuming on Tuesday too.

Intense contest
It was an intense contest. The talking point was Gambhir’s new stance — two-eyed — and the comfort with which he slipped into the new approach.

It may restrict his strokeplay to a large extent, but then Gambhir’s intent was not to showcase his range of shots but concentrate on a disciplined effort.

He had talked of making the most of the chance at the start of the season and his obduracy in the middle, at times patting deliveries he could have dismissed with disdain, reflected his determination.

That Gambhir loves to play his shots is well known but it is also true that he is not averse to grinding the attack. He grabbed the opportunity to make use of the pitch which had lesser grass than the one on which the preceding match was played.

This surface was drier and the ‘carry’ was encouraging. The India Red seam bowlers looked to make an early dent, but Gambhir and Agarwal hung in with the element of luck of favouring them too.

B. Aparajith, scheduled to come in next, noted, “I think we batted really well. The pitch was a little on the slower side, but it was a nice surface to bat on. We need to take some more time to settle down than the normal red ball.”

India Red’s centurion of the last match, Abhinav Mukund, said it was challenging. “There was less swing than before but credit to them for batting well. We need to pick up couple of wickets and come back into the game,” he said.

Gambhir got a life on six when Pradeep Sangwan dropped him at fine-leg off Nathu Singh. Mayank was also fortunate (when on 48) not to have been adjudged leg-before by umpire Virender Singh when he was trapped on the backfoot by chinaman Kuldeep Yadav.

These blemishes apart, the India Blue openers did a decent job before rain pelted the stadium and halted play for the day.

The scores:

India Blue — 1st innings: Mayank Agarwal (batting) 53 (102b, 6×4), Gautam Gambhir (batting) 51 (105b, 5×4); Extras (nb-1): 1; Total (for no loss in 34.2 overs): 105.

India Red bowling: Nathu Singh 6-0-23-0, Pradeep Sangwan 8.2-1-22-0, Ishwar Pandey 5-2-7-0, Kuldeep Yadav 9-0-30-0, Akshay Wakhare 5-0-18-0, Yuvraj Singh 1-0-5-0.

Toss: India Red.