Deodhar Trophy: Axar and Virat dazzle as India 'C' outduel 'B'
RANCHI: When he was growing up, Axar Patel was fondly nicknamed Sanath Jayasuriya in his locality. On a windy Saturday morning at the JSCA International Cricket Stadium here, India 'B' understood why.
The third and the last league match of the Deodhar Trophy between India 'B' and defending champions India 'C' was of little consequence given that both teams had already qualified for Monday's final at the expense of India 'A'. But the Gujarat all-rounder grabbed the opportunity with both hands as the southpaw smashed his highest List A score by remaining unbeaten on 98 off just 61 balls, powering India 'C' to a commanding 280/5 in their 50 overs, after captain Shubman Gill had called correctly at the toss and chosen to bat first.
However, the Parthiv Patel-led India 'B' lacked the temperament and application to scale down a stiff target of 281, finally falling short by a mammoth 136 runs after folding up for 144 in 43.4 overs. While India 'C' finished the league stage with eight points, India 'B' garnered four to remain second.
With 38 ODI matches and 11 T20Is to his name, Axar had been once advised by former skipper MS Dhoni to concentrate on his batting. Walking in at No. 7 with his team in a spot of bother at 126/5 after the dismissal of Dinesh Karthik (34), Axar showcased a marked improvement in his temperament and application at the crease as he joined forces with Jharkhand's Virat Singh to pull India 'C' out of the rut.
Having played a stellar knock of 143 on Friday, Gill (1) departed in the second over of the innings as he flicked an innocuous leg-stump half-volley from Vijay Shankar straight down the throat of the deep fine-leg fielder. With Mayank Agarwal rested, Anmolpreet Singh (23), Priyam Garg (18) and Suryakumar Yadav (10) failed to make the most of the situation on a pitch where the ball kept low and Shahbaz Nadeem appeared lethal having already bagged two wickets.
Desperately looking to forge a partnership, Singh found an able ally in Axar and duo shared an unbroken stand of 154 runs for the fifth wicket. Axar's ninth list A half-century, which contained 13 fours and three sublimely timed sixes, was not the sole highlight of the India 'C' innings as Singh, too, took his tally of 50-plus scores to 10. His well-composed 76 coming in 96 balls included three hits to the boundary and an equal number of sixes. Notwithstanding an abject display from the opposition, leggie Markande bagged his career-best list A figures with 4/25.
Brief scores: India 'C' 280/5 in 50 overs (V Singh 76*, A Patel 98*; Nadeem 2-37) bt India 'B' 144 in 43.4 overs (B Aparajith 53; Markande 4-25, Porel 2-33, Saxena 2-25).