M Vijay’s 155 helped India B beat India A by a comprehensive 139-run margin in the final of the 18th NKP Challenger Trophy being played in Rajkot. Deciding to bat first, India B posted 356 for 3 in 50 overs and then bowled India A out for 217 in 42.1 overs.
Baba Aparajith, who was promoted to open the innings, and Vijay put on 68 runs in 10.4 overs to start things off. Aparajith was the first to depart when Ajinkya Rahane caught him at point for 18 off Pragyan Ojha. However, that was to be the lone success for India A for the next 27.1 overs as Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, the captain, put up 192 runs in quick time.
Pujara, who hit 79 in 80 balls, finished as the highest run scorer of the tournament with 361 runs in three innings. By the time he was dismissed for the first time in the tournament, caught by Yusuf Pathan at mid-on off Parwinder Awana, the platform was set for a massive onslaught in the slog overs.
Trying to up the ante, Vijay was caught at long off by Ishant Sharma off Abhimanyu Mithun in the 41st over. Vijay hit 18 boundaries and five sixes during his 121-ball innings. After that Kedar Jadhav hit a 42-ball 60 with six boundaries and two sixes, putting up 79 runs for the third wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (25) to put India B in a commanding position.
Starting the chase, India A received a big blow early on when Sandeep Sharma had Robin Uthappa caught at first slip for a duck. Shikhar Dhawan and Rahane added 115 runs for the second wicket to keep the run chase on. But after Dhawan fell for 61, and S Badrinath and Dinesh Karthik were dismissed with the team score on 131, the innings lost direction.
Rahane, who hit 64, Manish Pandey (47) and Mithun (24) did make an effort to at least get close to the target, but that only delayed the inevitable. In the end, Stuart Binny with three wickets and Sharma, Jadeja and Aparajith with two apiece proved too strong a bowling unit for India A.
India A 356/3 in 50 overs (M Vijay 155, Cheteshwar Pujara 79, Kedar Jadhav 60 n.o.; Pragyan Ojha 1-64) beat India B 217 in 42.1 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 61, Ajinkya Rahane 64, Manish Pandey 47; Stuart Binny 3-26, Ravindra Jadeja 2-37, B Aparajith 2-38) by 139 runs