India Blue held on to secure a draw against India Red on a dramatic final day in the second round of the Duleep Trophy cricket tournament at the NPR College ground on Sunday.
In a twist to proceedings on the final day, India Red which had built a 179-run lead, collapsed to 255 all out from 198 for 3 as spinners Saurabh Kumar and Akshay Wakhare took four wickets each.
The two struck quick blows after the exit of Siddhesh Lad (68) and Akshay Wadkar (47) to leave India Red at 209 for 9, ahead by 232 runs with more than 70 overs to play.
Karnataka medium-pacer Abhimanyu Mithun (47 not out) launched a counterattack to extend the total to 255 before last man Ishan Porel was bowled by Jaydev Unadkat.
Requiring 279 for win in the 70-plus over, India Blue caved in after a bright start given by captain Faiz Fazal (45, 2×4, 1×6) and Dhru Shorey (39, 7X4) as Shahbaz Nadeem took five wickets conceding 53 runs.
Fazal was caught by Abhinav Mukund off Nadeem to leave India Blue at 76 for 1.
After Shorey and Abhishek Kumar Raman added 16 runs, the slide began as Nadeem and Rasool got into the act to leave the rivals at 110 for 8.
Left-arm spinner Nadeem was aided by off-spinner Parvez Rasool (3 for 59) as India Blue struggled to avoid an outright defeat.
Dhawal Kulkarni (4 off 33 balls) and B Ayyappa (15 off 28 ball) survived some anxious moments to deny India Red a win.
It was a profitable outing for Rasool as he took seven wickets in the match to underline his potential.
Abhinav Mukund-led India Red took its tally to six points from two matches and made sure of a berth in the final to be played from September 4.
Siddhesh Lad was named man of the match for his impressive knocks of 88 and 68.
India Blue and India Green will lock horns in the final league match from August 29 with a spot in the title clash up for grabs.
Brief scores: India Red 316 and vs 255 all out (Siddesh Lad 68, Abhinav Mukund 50, Saurabh Kumar 4 for 79, Akshay Wakhare 4 for 110) drew with India Blue 293 and 128 for 8 (Faiz Fazal 45, Dhruv Shorey 39, Shahbaz Nadeem 5 for 53, Parvez Rasool 3 for 59).
India Red: 3 points, India Blue: 1 point.
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