Nagpur: A gritty 56 by skipper Subramanium Badrinath and a quickfire half century from young Mandeep Singh helped India Blue post a competitive 274 for eight against India Red in the opening match of the NKP Salve Challenger Series.
India Red skipper Gautam Gambhir who will be playing the couple of round robin matches in order to gear up for ODI series won the toss and elected to field.
This was the first domestic limited overs match that is being played under the new ICC rules where two new balls are being used from two ends.
The find of IPL Paul Valthaty playing his first major List A match (second in his career) was in attacking mood scoring 36 off only 39 deliveries with the help of seven boundaries. He played and missed a few but was severe on Rudra Pratap Singh who looked woefully out of form.
RP wasn`t brought back for a second spell after he leaked 31 runs in his first four overs. He repeatedly tried to use the short ball and Valthaty would rock back to pull him
through the mid-wicket region. He was unfortunately run-out after a mix-up with Murali Vijay (26, 50 balls). Vijay looked totally out of sorts as he tried to hit over mid-on but the ball ballooned to Shikhar Dhawan at backward point.
Dinesh Karthik (13) was done in by a Piyush Chawla googly but Badrinath and Manish Pandey (45) steadied the ship with a fourth wicket opartnership that yielded 81 runs. While Badrinath who played 80 deliveries was happy to take the singles and twos, Pandey played some audacious aerial strokes including a six off left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt.
Pandey was dismissed five shy of a well deserved half century when he miscued a flighted elivery from Bhatt to Menaria. Badrinath followed Pandey as he was stumped off Bhatt`s bowling.
Mandeep who smashed 50 off only 38 balls hit a couple of big sixes off Pankaj Singh and Jaidev Unadkat respectively.