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I know people who won't really care that there is Challenger's trophy going on at Chennai these days, which happens to be the only domestic One day competetion that top Indian cricketers are involved in..
I take those people as "not that passionate" ones but I am sure there are people like me as well, who have spent restless last two days - trying to find "Neo Sports", a mysterious channel which was launched on 1s of October with the start of this Challenger's trophy. But not even a few people have seen it as yet...
Here's the answer and for the time being, let me review what exactly happened in those two 2006 challenger's trophy matches.
The series is set to be a three team affair - India Blue, India Green and India Red with India Blue being almost the replica of current Indian team. Here's more about that as well.
1st Match :- India Blue vs India Red.
We have't come too far from the day when Australia crossed 400 mark while batting first in an ODI against South Africa - who came out and chased it down in the second innings. I won't be surprised with something similar happening in this Champions trophy as well because Indian wickets right now are completely favourable to batting and the first glimpse was from this match when Gautam Gambhir led the charge against Indian bowlers - Pathan, Patel, Agarkar, Harbjahan and Sehwag and scored an impressive 110 off 119. Youngsters like Robin Uthappa and Subramaniam Badrinath failed in making a mark early, but ODI discard Y Venugopal Rao played a good hand for his typical 67 off 101 balls.
India Red's lower order didn't do too much to mention about apart from another youngster - Rohit Sharma showing some good batting tricks during his 29 ball 33. INDIA RED - 280, all out off the last ball of the last over.
The Chase - Team India's batsmen were expected to get the target of 280 against a "not so bad" bowling lineup of India Green - Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, VRV Singh, Murali Kartik and Ramesh Powar. But they failed to do so by 21 runs. After a good start of 96 from 16.1 overs between Sehwag and Sachin, Indian middle order failed to collapse at 259 in the 48th over.
A bad but not so shocking defeat for our national cricketers.
2nd Match :- India Blue vs India Green.
I told you that "those 400 days" are not too far. India Blue batsmen were hungry for runs and in came Injury returnings - L Balaji, Ashish Nehra and the wonderful Sourav Ganguly. When everyother bowler gave away 6.50 runs per over - Sourav Ganguly bowled 5 over for 23 runs at an economy of 4.60.
That wasn't enough and The scorecard read : India Blue 381 for 6 in 50 overs. The highlighted ones were Sachin Tendulkar (139 off 100 with 20 fours and 4 sixes), Irfan Pathan (54 off 55 with 4 fours and 3 huge ones), Rahul Dravid (62 off 63 with surprisingly 3 sixes) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni with 59 ball 79 with 6 fours and just 4 sixes.
The from India Green was never a threat other than some Ganguly magic - which ultimately didn't happened. Sourav Looked OK while starting the innings but failed when he tried to free his hands - trying his favourite slap off the off stump. Indian Green side slumped to 115 in just 26.5 overs.
The only good thing came from "baby faced" Parthiv Patel who made a strokeful 43 off 38 balls.
3rd Match :- India Red vs India Green.
It was Important for Indian National cricket team's perspective that India Red beat India Green in this third and last league match of NKP Salve Challenger's trophy not only because it was a matter of pride for them, but also to gain one more match practice before the Champions trophy starts..
India Red Captain - Venugopal Rao won he toss and elected to bat. And the openers - Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir played strokefull parts to compile 164 off 26 overs. This was Gautam Gambhir's second very good innings in Callenger's trophy and he looked in simply great touch. Robin Uthappa retired after suffering from Cramps only to return later and get out without completing his century. He made 92 off 99 balls.
India Red - 317 for 4 in 50 overs.
India Green's reply :- This innings will be remembered more as a failure of Sourav Ganguly than anything else. Ganguly was bowled by S Sreesanth in this third match, when he was just on 3. India Red team kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and even though Parthiv Patel again played a very good hand and showed his batting talents - India Red never seemed in the chase. The finally were bowled out at 278 in the 49th over. VRV Singh again took 4 wickets to back his previous match's performance of 3 wickets.
Now today's match - India Blue vs India Red - the Final of Challenger's trophy.