Manish Pandey scored his sixth List A hundred to help India B to a crucial 32-run victory. © Getty Images

Manish Pandey scored his sixth List A hundred to help India B to a crucial 32-run victory. © Getty Images

Manish Pandey hit his sixth List A century and Axar Patel chipped in with a fine all-round show as India B won their second match of the Deodhar Trophy 2016-17 in a row, beating Tamil Nadu by 32 runs in Visakhapatnam on Sunday (March 26).

Half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Axar, and Pandey’s 104 took India B to 316 for 8 in their 50 overs, and Tamil Nadu rode on Kaushik Gandhi’s century to remain in the hunt for the longest time but eventually fell well short, finishing on 284 in 48.4 overs.

After opting to bat, India B lost Parthiv Patel, the captain, early in the innings, when he nicked M Mohammed to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps. But Dhawan, who hit a match-winning 128 in the first game against India A, teamed up with Pandey to put the innings back on track with an 86-run stand for the second wicket.

Dhawan hit six fours and two sixes in a brisk 50 off 48 balls before R Sai Kishore went past his defence in the nineteenth over. A couple of quick wickets, in the form of Govinda Poddar and Ishank Jaggi, fell soon after Dhawan’s exit, and the Tamil Nadu bowlers had their tails up at that point.

But Pandey’s century, studded with five boundaries and four sixes, not only took out the pressure, but also inspired Axar, batting at No. 6, to chip in with a crucial 43-ball 51 with one four and four sixes to set up India B’s charge past the 300-run mark.

Gurkeerat Singh Mann’s run-a-ball 25 and Akshay Karnewar’s unbeaten 28 in 25 balls helped India B along towards the close and they finished with a solid score on the board despite a splendid effort from Sai Kishore, who bagged 4 for 60 in his ten overs.

Axar Patel took 3 for 53 after scoring a 43-ball 51. © Getty Images

Tamil Nadu’s chase revolved around Gandhi’s resilient 124 in 134 balls with nine hits to the fence, but except N Jagadeesan scoring 64 in 56 balls (5×4, 3×6) from No. 3 in a 114-run stand with Gandhi, none of the other batsmen provided Gandhi the kind of support he needed to overhaul the steep target.

During their partnership after V ganga Sridhar Raju’s dismissal in the ninth over, Jagadeesan was clearly the aggressor, and Tamil Nadu had the edge. But once Axar bowled him in the 26th over, the pressure was back on Tamil Nadu, and stayed on them.

Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar, Washington Sundar and Mohammed all fell cheaply, with Axar and Kulwant Khejroliya, the left-arm pacer, doing most of the damage even as Gandhi held one end up to keep Tamil Nadu in the game.

Gandhi finally perished in the 47th over, caught by Pandey off Chama Milind, in his attempt to make a final, desperate dash towards the target. It was only a matter of time before India B wrapped things up from there on.

Axar finished with 3 for 53, while Dhawal Kulkarni bagged two late wickets to end with 3 for 45.

The win put India B in the final, to be played on Wednesday, where they will face the winners of Monday’s game between India A and Tamil Nadu.