Lucknow: India Green din’t even venture a batathon on the final day as they lost their three remaining wickets in less than an hour to hand India Red a 219-run victory. Left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav added one wicket to his five-for on day three to finish with nine wickets in the match, which lasted only 10.2 overs on the final day.
With the match all but out of grasp, Suresh Raina, resuming on 42, dashed towards a hundred but eventually fell ten runs short; it was Kuldeep, after being caned around by Raina, who got him out. Ashok Dinda and Pragyan Ojha offered no illusions of sticking it out, as they were removed either side of Raina’s dismissal. India Red secured six points by virtue of the outright win in the country’s maiden first-class game with the pink ball.
Raina’s patience against Kuldeep in the first over of the day was a red herring; in the next over he took two fours off Nathu Singh, the second of which saw him back away and glide a short ball uppishly over third man. Raina had hit top gear and Kuldeep would bear the brunt of it in his next over as he conceded three fours. Raina hared out of the crease on all the three occasions, and alternated between hitting straight and inside out.
While Dinda had been shielded from the strike all this while, he could last no more than two balls against Nathu in the next over as his meek pull only went as far as mid-on. Nathu then welcomed Ojha by pinging him on the helmet, but he stuck around to watch his captain play a few more shots. Raina continued to take a liking to his Uttar Pradesh team-mate Kuldeep, and smashed his way to three more boundaries.
However, it was Kuldeep who would eventually come out on top of this tussle. In the last ball of the 56th over, Raina tried to follow a six with a controlled lob, but it was snaffled at mid-off. Akshay Wakhare helped himself to Ojha’s wicket in the next over to bring the match to a close after India Green managed 60 runs in the session.
At the presentation ceremony, Raina lauded Kuldeep and provided a positive appraisal of the pink ball. He was also appreciative of the crowd, which made its presence felt – in numbers and decibel levels – over the four days. “I was discussing with Yuvi (Yuvraj ) Singh as well, the more we play, the better we’ll get at it,” Raina said. India Red captain Yuvraj Singh felt the pink ball moved a lot more than the SG ball. “It was pretty exciting, the pink ball doesn’t go old. It was coming onto the bat nicely,” he said.
Abhinav Mukund, who was named Man-of-the-match for his 77 and 169, said he didn’t have any issues with sighting the ball throughout the game. “I was getting into good positions. I’ve been training well back home, especially batting under lights,” he said.
“That experience helped me here. I think a lot of people had issues sighting the ball, but I didn’t have any issues with visibility. The wicket was damp, that’s perhaps why so many wickets fell on the first day. I worked hard during the off-season. I got leaner and stronger. I worked on my batting as well. Hopefully this season marks a turnaround for me.”
India Red next play Gautam Gambhir’s India Blue from August 29 at the same venue.