Air India fly home on Raina's knock

Fifties by Rahul Dravid, Badrinath go in vain

Classy: Air India (Red) batsman Suresh Raina shapes for a slog sweep during his unbeaten 92 against India Cements at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Thursday. DH photo

The battle of the big boys in Group D of the Corporate Trophy failed to live up to expectations once Cements failed to build substantially on a second century stand in as many days between skipper Rahul Dravid and S Badrinath (91, 110b, 8x4, 2x6).

By contrast, the Air India top-order came to the party with Suresh Raina in the forefront, resulting in a seven-wicket win for Yuvraj Singh’s men and a semifinal tilt at the same venue on Saturday against ONGC.

India Cements will look back at the match and wonder what might have been. Despite a 45-minute rain interruption that reduced the match to a 47-over affair, they were in control as Dravid oozed class yet again and Badrinath continued to impress the connoisseurs.

Once the third-wicket pair was separated, Air India were all over their opponents like a bad rash. 191 for three when Dravid was dismissed at the beginning of the 40th over, Cements limped to 243 for nine when they ran out of overs.

Cements’ best hope against a formidable line-up lay in Lakshmipathi Balaji and Sudeep Tyagi making early inroads and receiving good support in the field. Tyagi did get rid of Robin Uthappa, but with Naman Ojha, the intelligent Raina and the exuberant Yuvraj in the mood, there was no stopping Air India, who raced to 244 for three. Almost in the fitness of things, a dropped catch and an overthrow combined to bring up the winning runs.

Man of the match Raina (92 n.o., 107b, 7x4, 2x6) took 15 deliveries to get off the mark, but once he got his eye in and plonked Palani Amarnath into the sightscreen, he effortlessly shifted gears. With a spunky Ojha for company, Raina set about the limited Cements bowling with gusto. The Chennai side could have done with more support in the field, but catches were put down at crucial junctures, none more so than when substitute Siva Kumar floored Raina off Hemang Badani. Then 53 out of 141 for one, Raina lost Ojha in the next over after a stand of 109 (116b). But when he saw his captain itching to have a go, the UP left-hander played well within himself, allowing Yuvraj to cream the bowling in a breathtaking exhibition of power hitting.

The afternoon’s entertainment was no less enjoyable, even if it wasn’t pulverising or breakneck. Coming together after openers Abhinav Mukund and KB Arun Karthik had been dismissed with 58 on the board, Badrinath and Dravid played beautifully following the mid-innings rain interruption, Dravid picking up the pieces after an initial hesitant start against Yuvraj.

Unafraid to hit in the air, Dravid finally paid the penalty for taking the aerial route once too often after adding 133 (151b). Badrinath perished in the 90s for the second day running, stumped while trying to up the rate as Ajit Chandila struck in successive overs. That, quite simply, was that, as the last ten overs yielded just 64, and a total well short of par for the course.

Scoreboard
INDIA CEMENTS: Abhinav Mukund c Yuvraj b Mangela 30 (46b, 5x4), KB Arun Karthik c Chavan b Netravalkar 7 (13b, 1x4), S Badrinath st Ojha b Chandila 91 (110b, 8x4, 2x6), Rahul Dravid c Uthappa b Chandila 66 (72b, 4x4, 1x6), S Suresh Kumar c&b Netravalkar 17 (16b, 1x4), Hemang Badani c Kulkarni b Netravalkar 4 (7b), R Ashwin c Yuvraj b Kulkarni 0 (2b), M Kamlesh (not out) 16 (10b, 2x4), Lakshmipathi Balaji c Mangela b Kulkarni 2 (3b), Palani Amarnath (run out) 2 (3b), Sudeep Tyagi (not out) 0 (0b). Extras (LB-5, W-3) 8. Total (for 9 wkts, 47 overs) 243.

Fall of wickets: 1-22 (Karthik), 2-58 (Mukund), 3-191 (Dravid), 4-205 (Badrinath), 5-213 (Badani), 6-215 (Ashwin), 7-228 (Suresh), 8-231 (Balaji), 9-242 (Amarnath).
Bowling: Dhawal Kulkarni 10-1-42-2, Saurabh Netravalkar 9-1-48-3, Ajit Chandila 7-0-38-2 (w-2), Moondeep Mangela 8-0-37-1 (w-1), Yuvraj Singh 7-0-38-0, Ankit Chavan 5-0-24-0, Robin Uthappa 1-0-11-0.

AIR INDIA (RED): Naman Ojha b Suresh 59 (75b, 5x4, 2x6), Robin Uthappa c Kamlesh b Tyagi 22 (19b, 2x4), Suresh Raina (not out) 92 (107b, 7x4, 2x6), Yuvraj Singh c Dravid b Tyagi 39 (42b, 5x4, 1x6), Hrishikesh Kanitkar (not out) 16 (15b, 3x4). Extras (LB-3, W-13) 16. Total (for 3 wkts, 43 overs) 244.

Fall of wickets: 1-37 (Robin Uthappa), 2-146 (Naman Ojha), 3-216 (Yuvraj).
Bowling: Lakshmipathi Balaji 9-1-46-0 (w-5), Sudeep Tyagi 9-0-46-2 (w-2), Palani Amarnath 5-0-40-0, R Ashwin 10-0-59-0 (w-6), S Suresh Kumar 6-1-32-1, Hemang Badani 4-0-18-0.

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