Ravindra Jadeja spiced up an otherwise uneventful final day with another lethal spell of left-arm spin as India Blue notched a crushing 355-run victory over India Red to win the inaugural day-night Duleep Trophy tournament, in Greater Noida, on Wednesday evening.
With the match already in India Blue’s pocket after a gigantic 337-run first innings lead, the fifth day was only of academic interest, but Jadeja (5-76 in 18.1 overs) bundled out Reds, who were set an improbable victory target of 517 runs, for 161 in 44.1 overs.
Jadeja's match haul of 10-171 is his sixth 10-for in first-class cricket and will enhance his confidence as India get ready to take on New Zealand in a week's time.
It was again the pace, approximately around 90 kmph, which made the difference as most of the deliveries straightened after pitching, with the odd ball turning away and a few coming in with the angle.
The batsmen could neither fully commit forward and those going for the cross-batted sweep shot paid the price because of his wicket-to-wicket line.
India Blue captain Gautam Gambhir batted for 10 overs as his team added another 40 runs before declaring the second innings at 179 for five with a lead of 516 runs.
Rohit Sharma (32 not out) got 75 balls as part of his match practice before the Test series.
With victory out of question, one thought it would be a case of playing out the required overs before the captains decided to call off the match.
After Abhinav Mukund was hit on the forearm by a Pankaj Singh snorter and subsequently retired, Shikhar Dhawan (29) and Sudeep Chatterjee (13) added 36 runs before Jadeja struck the first blow.
Chatterjee tried to sweep one from the rough and the miscued catch was easily taken by Abhimanyu Mithun at mid-off.
In the next over, Dhawan was done in by a Parveez Rasool (1/31) delivery that drifted and turned away, Gambhir taking a sharp low catch at first slip.
Yuvraj Singh (21) and Gurkeerat Singh Mann (39 off 37 balls) added 52 runs in quick time before the veteran superstar lost concentration while going for a slog sweep against Jadeja only to find Pankaj at deep square leg boundary.
Yuvraj had a terrible tournament, scoring only 52 runs in four completed innings at an average of 13. An India comeback seems a distant reality as the two-time World Cup winner looked a pale shadow of his old self.
Reds went downhill from there on as Binny also tried to sweep and missed the line to reduce them to 98 for four (effectively five with Mukund not coming out to bat).
In the meantime, Karn Sharma (3/33 in 9 overs) increased the pressure by having Gurkeerat stumped by Dinesh Karthik with a lovely leg-break and Jadeja removed Amit Mishra to make it four wickets for himself.
Karn then found the outside edge of Ankush Bains (20) and was lucky to dismiss Pradeep Sangwan with a half-tracker.
Jadeja completed a coveted five-for when he bowled one that had Nathu Singh plumb in-front.
India Blue 693-6 decl and 179-5 decl (Mayank Agarwal 52, Rohit Sharma 32 not out, Kuldeep Yadav 3-62).
India Red 356 & 161 in 44.1 overs (Gurkeerat Singh 39, Ravindra Jadeja 5/76).
India Blue won by 355 runs.