Dinesh Karthik top-scored for Tamil Nadu with 93 as they sealed a 73-run win over India A. © Wisden India

Mandeep Singh’s battling 97 went in vain as India A went down to Tamil Nadu by 73 runs at Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam in the final round robin match of the Deodhar Trophy 2016-17 on Monday (March 27).

Half-centuries from N Jagadeesan and Dinesh Karthik led Tamil Nadu to 303 for 6 in 50 overs before Rahil Shah and R Sai Kishore picked up three wickets each to dismiss India A for 230 in 44.4 overs to help their side qualify for the final, where they will take on India B, who got there first after having won both their games. Tamil Nadu’s win was significant also in that it was the first time since September 2013 that a state team beat India A/B/Red/Blue in a 50-over game. The last time was in Indore when Virat Kohli’s Delhi went past India Red by 112 runs in the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. 

Kaushik Gandhi and Ganga Sridhar Raju got Tamil Nadu off to a steady start after they opted to bat. Fresh off a knock of 124 against India B in the previous game, Gandhi was the aggressor and hit six boundaries on his way to 34 off 29 deliveries. 

Tamil Nadu were looking comfortable at 47 without loss, but Shardul Thakur (3 for 49), the right-arm medium pacer, sent back both the openers in the space of three balls to give India A an opening. Jagadeesan and Karthik replaced the two and took charge from there on to lay a strong platform.

Karthik, who has been in brilliant touch throughout this season, carried his rich vein of form and found a willing ally in Jagadeesan. The two added 159 runs for the third wicket before Jagadeesan was stumped for 71 off Krunal Pandya. The right-hand batsman hit four fours and two sixes in his 82-ball knock. 

Mandeep Singh’s 97 went in vain as he got little support during India A’s steep chase. © BCCI

Karthik kept the scorecard ticking till he fell seven short of his century – he hit six fours and a six in his 98-ball 93 before becoming Thakur’s third victim.

With more than nine overs to go, Vijay Shankar and B Indrajith scored some useful runs to take Tamil Nadu past the 300-run mark. While Shankar, the captain, scored 23 in 24 balls, Indrajith blasted an unbeaten 36 off 28 deliveries, including four boundaries, to set a steep target for India A.

In the chase, Mayank Agarwal fell early to M Mohammed, and Ambati Rayudu was sent back by Sai Kishore after a 23-ball 21 even as Mandeep Singh stayed firm and found the fence at regular intervals to keep the run rate within sight.

Pandya, at No. 4, smacked three boundaries and two sixes to score a quick 36 off 42 balls, but when he was dismissed in the 25th over, almost the halfway mark, India A had only gotten to 138 – well behind where they would have wanted to be.

And it got worse as Mandeep soon started running out of partners with India A slumping to 214 for 8 by the 42nd over as Manoj Tiwary, Rishabh Pant and Deepak Hooda all failed to make significant contributions.

Mandeep was the last to fall, missing his century by just three runs, when he became Sai Kishore’s third wicket, the left-arm spinner finishing with 3 for 39. Rahil returned 3 for 37.