Left-hand batsman Sushant Marathe hit an unbeaten 80 as Air India Red defeated the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation by five wickets to enter the final of inaugural BCCI Corporate Trophy cricket tournament at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Saturday.
After restricting ONGC to a modest 213 in 48 overs, the Air India overhauled the target in just 40 overs, thanks to the 106-ball innings by Marathe, who was well-supported by Robin Uthappa (45 off 49).
Marathe's 80 came off 106 balls, inclusive of eight fours. He put on 94 runs for the second wicket with Robin Uthappa, who scored a 49-ball 45 that was studded with seven boundaries.
Marathe shared a 67-run unbeaten sixth wicket partnership with Ankeet Chavan (41 not out).
Put into bat, ONGC had a bad start as paceman Dahawal Kulkarni (3/40) inflicted early blows, dismissing openers Praveen Kumar (12) and Sandeep Sharma (8) cheaply with consecutive deliveries in the sixth over, leaving them struggling at 25 for two.
However, skipper Gautam Gambhir's 63 off 75 balls and a 57-ball 46 by Virat Kohli enabled ONGC recover.
Gambhir and Kohli stitched a 92-run third wicket partnership before the latter missed his half-century as Yuvraj Singh showed fine reflexes to pouch a return catch in the 25th over.
The left-hand India opener hit four boundaries, while the Delhi batsman found an able ally in Kohli, who also cracked as many boundaries and smote the ball into the stands for maximum once.
After Kohli's exit, Gambhir teamed with Tanmoy Srivastava (29 off 55) to add 43 runs on the board.
But the partnership was broken only when it was looking dangerous as Gambhir's ambitious effort off Robin Uthappa found Suresh Raina.
P Kumar c Kanitkar b Kulkarni 12
Sandeep Sharma c Yuvraj b Kulkarni 8
G Gambhir c Uthappa b Raina 63
V Kohli c & b Yuvraj 46
T Srivastava run out 29
A Ratra c Ojha b Mangela 5
M Tehlan c Chavan b Mangela 3
A Mishra c & b Netravalkar 5
Sarandeep Singh c Raina b Netravalkar 3
I Sharma c Uthappa b Kulkarni 10
M Patel not out 13
Extras: (LB-11, W-4, NB-1) 16
Total: (all out in 48 overs) 213
Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-25, 3-117, 4-160, 5-172, 6-176, 7-187, 8-189, 9-193, 10-213.
Bowling: D Kulkarni 10-0-40-3, S Netravalkar 9-0-38-2, MG Mangela 10-1-41-2, A Chandila 10-0-42-0, S Raina 7-0-30-1, Yuvraj Singh 2-0-11-1.
Air India Red:
N Ojha c Kohli b Patel 1
R Uthappa lbw b Mishra 45
S Marathe not out 80
S Raina b Sarandeep Singh 4
Yuvraj Singh c Ratra b Sharma 6
H Kanitkar c Ratra b Sarandeep Singh 13
A Chavan not out 41
Extras: (B-2, LB-3, W-14, NB-6) 25
Total: (for 5 wkts in 40 overs) 215
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-98, 3-106, 4-123, 5-148.
Bowling: P Kumar 6-0-30-0, M Patel 7-0-54-1, A Mishra 7-0-40-1, I Sharma 9-0-40-1, Sarandeep Singh 10-1-36-2, T Srivastava 1-0-10-0.