India Blue, led by Smriti Mandhana, beat India Green by 33-runs to lift the Challenger Trophy. © BCCI

India Blue, led by Smriti Mandhana, beat India Green by 33-runs to lift the Challenger Trophy. © BCCI

India Blue ran out worthy winners of the Women’s Challenger Trophy, beating India Green by 33 runs in the final at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Monday (January 8).

Smriti Mandhana at the top of the order and Mona Meshram scored crucial half-centuries to propel Blue to a modest total of 207 for 9. C Prathyusha, the right-arm medium pacer, then took over, finishing with 4 for 23 as India Green were bowled out for 174 despite Punam Raut’s lone hand of 88, and a handy contribution from Jemimah Rodrigues (43).

Blue got off to a steady start as Vanitha VR and Mandhana put on 33 runs for the opening wicket when the former was caught by Rodrigues off Shikha Pandey for 19. Mandhana took a prudent approach, punishing the bad balls for boundaries, of which she scored seven in her innings of 58 off 74 balls, and keeping the good ones out. She survived a run-out scare but was otherwise in control while D Hemalatha kept her company while making 24 off 35 balls.

Blue seemed to have laid the foundation for a healthy total when Asha S, the legspinner, got into the act by dismantling the middle order. To add to their woes, Mandhana found herself on the wrong side of a run-out effected by Raut.

Meshram continued to bat positively and finally found some support in Jhulan Goswami (16 off 17 balls), reaching her half-century in 79 balls before being dismissed caught and bowled effort by Anuja Patil. That meant there was no final flourish.

Asha was Green’s most successful bowler with 3 for 29 while Patil, the skipper, finished with 3 for 42.

The chase began with usual suspects Raut and Rodrigues building a good foundation through an opening partnership of 74. Raut reached her half-century off 64 balls while Rodrigues struck 43 off 61 balls before being dismissed by Rajeshwari. Devika Vaidya followed shortly but the big blow came in the 35th over when Raut was run out by Pooja Vastrakar for 88 off 120 balls, including six fours.

That triggered an alarming collapse as Green lost their last eight wickets for the addition of just 24 runs with Prathyusha doing the bulk of the damage. She narrowly missed out on a hat-trick but picked up three wickets in four deliveries on her way to figures of 4 for 23, signaling her team’s victory by trapping Meghna Singh, the No. 11, in front.

Brief scores: India Blue 207/9 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 58, Mona Meshram 63; Anuja Patil 3-42, Asha S 3-29) beat India Green 174 all out in 45.2 overs (Punam Raut 88, Jemimah Rodrigues 43; C Pratyusha 4-23) by 33 runs.