Greater Noida: India Blue reached the Duleep Trophy final on the basis of a massive first innings lead, completing a comprehensive performance against India Green even as the game ended in a draw in Greater Noida on Wednesday.
There was only one team going into the final against India Red after India Blue took a huge 470-run first innings lead yesterday by dismissing the Green team for 237. India Blue had amassed 707.
India Blue, starting the day four at 35 for no loss in their second innings, went on to make 298 thanks to half centuries from Mayank Agarwal (58), Gautam Gambhir (59), Dinesh Karthik (57) and Sheldon Jackson (79 not out).
Agarwal and Jackson had slammed centuries in the first innings along with Cheteshwar Pujara.
India Green got to bat for 34 overs in their second innings. They ended up scoring at a brisk pace with Murali Vijay (73 off 96 balls) and Robin Uthappa (66 off 61) providing the entertainment.
India Blue captain Gautam Gambhir had no qualms in saying that winning the toss was crucial as his team posted a mammoth first innings score in the game played with pink ball and under lights.
"I thought the toss was crucial, but that, of course, is not in our hands. Putting 700 runs on the board was crucial. Very professional performance. I have always believed that a good team makes a good captain. It's the other 10 people who make a good captain. It's those people in the park who stand next to me who make me successful, so credit must go to them," said Gambhir, who missed out on a hundred with scores of 90 and 59 in the match. In the previous game, he had scored 77.
He was also all praise for fellow opener Agarwal, who was named Man of the Match for his 161 and 58 in the two innings.
"He is a talented cricketer who keeps a cool head. If he can keep learning and continue improving, he's got a bright future. We need to start well (in the final) to win a five day game, hopefully, we should be up for it," added Gambhir.
Agarwal himself said facing the pink ball was "easy".
There will added interest in the final beginning on Saturday with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja getting the the taste of pink ball cricket.
As many as six players, who were part of India's squad in the West Indies, have been picked for the final including Amit Mishra, Stuart Binny and Pujara.