Sehwag sizzles with brisk fifty but Delhi lose

Virender Sehwag struck a fluent half-century in the first outing of his comeback bid into the national side but that was not good enough to prevent a formidable Delhi side from losing by 18 runs to India Blue in the opening game of the NKP Salve Challenger Series here on Thursday.

Playing without skipper Yuvraj Singh, who skipped the tie due to a stiff back, India Blue scored 270 for six in 50 overs courtesy a 73-ball 91 by Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar.

In reply, Sehwag, who came in at number four, batted in his customary style, smashing his way to 58 off only 39 balls with the help of nine boundaries and a six but Delhi could manage only 252 in 47.5 overs.

Veteran Rajat Bhatia’s all-round effort (3/46 and 65) and Ashish Nehra’s career best List A score of 37 not out went in vain.

Virat Kohli-led Delhi will now have to defeat India Red and also expect a favourable outcome in the match between Blue and Red scheduled for Friday.

With Yuvraj skipping the game, the interest for the 10,000 odd spectators was some fireworks from Sehwag and Kohli. But, Kohli (5) disappointed as he played away from his body to a Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/58) delivery which was snapped by Naman Ojha behind the stumps.

Coming at two down, Sehwag started with a punchy cover drive off Bhuvneshwar’s bowling. In the next over bowled by R Vinay Kumar, Sehwag hit a spanking square-cut and then lofted the seamer over extra cover for a six. The moment width was provided to Sehwag, the ball raced through the cover region while anything on the pads was treated with equal disdain.

Having played his last competitive match during the IPL in early May, a leaner Sehwag did not look rusty during his short stay at the wicket.

It was Bengal left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena who got lucky when he managed to latch on to a powerful return catch by Sehwag which had Delhi in trouble at 85 for four. Such was his domination that Sehwag scored 58 of those 85 runs.

INDIA BLUE: Naman Ojha lbw Bhatia 23, Akshath Reddy b Sood 53, Manish Pandey b Bhatia 0, Sibsankar Roy b Bhatia 5, Abhishek Nayar c Kohli b Milind 91, Ankit Bawne lbw Narwal 13, Piyush Chawla (not out) 40, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (not out) 29; Extras (B-1, LB-10, W-4, NB-1) 16; Total (6 wickets; 50 overs) 270.
Fall of wickets: 1-56, 2-56, 3-66, 4-99, 5-151, 6-222.
Bowling: Ashish Nehra 10-1-59-0, Sumit Narwal 8-1-42-1, Parwinder Awana 12-0-51-0, Rajat Bhatia 10-0-46-3, Varun Sood 6-0-39-1, Milind Kumar 3-0-13-1, Virat Kohli 1-0-9-0.
Delhi: Mohit Sharma lbw Bhuvneshwar 0, Unmukt Chand (run out) 13, Virat Kohli c Ojha b Bhuvneshwar 5, Vi­r­ender Sehwag c & b Saxena 59, Mili­nd Kumar run out 22, Rajat Bhatia b Rajpoot 65, Punit Bisht lbw Rajpoot 23, Sumit Narwal c Ojha b Bhuvneshwar 0, Varun Sood b Rajpoot 3, Ashish Nehra (not out) 37, Parvinder Awana b Vinay 12. Extras (B-4, LB-1, W-7, NB-1) 13. Total (all out, 47.5 overs) 252.
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-7, 3-63, 4-85, 5-122, 6-160, 7-162, 8-169, 9-225.
Bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10-0-58-3, R Vinay Kumar 8.5-0-43-1, Piyush Chawla 11-0-57-0, Iresh Saxena 6-0-32-1, Ankit Rajpoot 10-0-44-3, Abhishek Nayar 2-0-13-0.

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