Cuttack, Oct 26 (UNI) India Blue rode on Ajinkya Rahane's half-century and his 93-run partnership for the opening wicket with Robin Uthappa to retain the NKP Salve Trophy with an easy eight-wicket victory over India Red in the final of the Challenger Series here at Barabati Stadium tonight.
Chasing a modest target of 152, India Blue clinched the win with 24.2 overs to spare. Rahane's 64-ball knock of 53 was studded with seven boundaries and a six. Uthappa made a quick-fire 46 (42b, 4x5, 6x2) before being dismissed by Piyush Chawla.
After Rahane and Uthappa laid a solid foundation, Virat Kohli made an unbeaten 35 to guide the Blues to victory.
Earlier, a fine bowling performance helped India Blue dismiss India Red for a modest total of 151 in 43 overs. Electing to bat, India Red suffered a top order collapse to be reduced to 72 for six.
Medium pacers Siddharth Trivedi and Ashok Dinda were instrumental in giving defending champions India Blue a flying start.
Generating noticeable pace and bounce off a pitch that played slow and low earlier, Dinda did the early damage by dismissing opener Parthiv Patel and the only century-maker of the series, Rohit Sharma for zero and one respectively. Sharma's dismissal came as big blow for the Reds as he had scored a match-winning unbeaten century earlier against India Green.
Red captain S Badrinath and Pravin Kumar did some repair work by putting on 66 runs for the seventh wicket. But the exit of the duo in the space of seven balls dashed all hopes of any further recovery and Reds soon folded up with seven overs still to be bowled.
Badrinath, who had got out cheaply in previous two matches, scored a laborious half-century (56 off 95, 4x5), while Pravin hit a cameo 45 (37 balls, 4x2, 6x1). Earlier, opener Murli Vijay, continued his consistent performance by making 30 (37b, 4x3, 6x1) and there by taking his aggregate to 164 in the current tournament.
While Dinda and Trivedi consumed India Red's top half, the bottom half was wiped out by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and Irfan Pathan.
Earlier, India Red made three changes, including Parthiv Patel, Jaydev Shah and R Vinay Kumar in places of Faiz Fazal, Manoj Tiwary and Wridhman Saha, while India Blue effected two changes, replacing Arjun Yadav and Pradip Sangwan with Ajinkya Rahane and S Trivedy.
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