Shikhar Dhawan’s towering 128 and half-centuries from Parthiv Patel and Ishank Jaggi took India B to a 23-run victory over India A.  © AFP

Shikhar Dhawan’s towering 128 and half-centuries from Parthiv Patel and Ishank Jaggi took India B to a 23-run victory over India A. © AFP

Shikhar Dhawan’s towering 128 and a couple of fifties from Parthiv Patel and Ishank Jaggi took India B to a 23-run victory over India A in a high-scoring opening match of the 2016-17 Deodhar Trophy on Saturday (March 25).

India B put up a sizeable 327 for 8 at the ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam, and led by Ambati Rayudu’s run-a-ball 92, India A made a good fist of the chase but eventually were bowled out for 304 in 48.2 overs.

Dhawan, who has endured a somewhat lean run, had a good outing, smashing three sixes and 13 fours in a 122-ball innings that was the backbone of India B’s total after Harbhajan Singh had won the toss and chosen to bowl.

Dhawan and Parthiv, the captain, put on 93 in 16.2 overs to lay a sound platform when Parthiv fell to Siddharth Kaul for a 48-ball 50. Kaul bagged Shreevats Goswami in the same over, but with Jaggi joining Dhawan, India B were back on track.

The duo put on 103 runs in 105 balls, setting the innings up for a late charge. Jaggi was stumped by Rishabh Pant off Krunal Pandya in the 35th over for 53 off 51 leaving the team 198 for 3, but Dhawan got to his century soon after, taking 114 balls to get to the landmark. He accelerated spectacularly after reaching three figures, with the next seven balls bringing 28 runs before he fell to Deepak Hooda in the 41st over.

However, with Harpreet Singh (29 off 27) and Axar Patel (22 off 15) hitting out, India B’s momentum didn’t stop. Kaul ended up with 5 for 59 in his ten overs, to be the most successful bowler for his side by a distance while Pandya also gave a good account of himself, with 2 for 41 in eight overs.

India A got off to a brisk start in their chase with Mayank Agarwal (35 off 34) leading the way. Mandeep Singh fell cheaply to leave them 45 for 1, but Rayudu kept them in the hunt.

However, while India A had several people making handy contributions, none could go on to make a big score, which is what hurt them in the end. Manoj Tiwary made a 43-ball 37, but Pant fell cheaply. At 185 for 4 in the 36th over, India A needed a steep 143 runs in 95 balls. Pandya (31 off 23) and Deepak Hooda (46 off 27) were equal to the task, but Akshay Karnewar made decisive strikes to give India B the advantage.

He first had Pant caught and bowled, and in the 41st over, Pandya was caught by Harpreet Singh off Karnewar. The most crucial strike of all came when two overs later, Karnewar caught and bowled Rayudu, leaving India A 250 for 6.

Hooda still kept the chase from flagging, and the equation had come down to 24 needed off 12 balls when Dhawal Kulkarni brought an end to the proceedings, getting Hooda and Kaul off successive balls at the start of the 49th over.

Karnewar (3 for 60) and Kulkarni (3 for 64) were the most successful bowlers for India B, while Axar and Kulwant Khejroliya had two wickets apiece.

The next match will pit Tamil Nadu, the Vijay Hazare Trophy champions and the third team in the competition, against India B on Sunday. Each team will play the other once before the top two contest in the final on Wednesday.