Cuttack:Rohit Sharma stroked an emphatic unbeaten century to guide India Red to a five wicket win over India Green in the N.K.P. Salve Challenger Trophy on Friday.
Rohit's strokeful 117 saw India Red cross the 261 run target with one over to spare at the Barabatti Stadium. The Mumbai batsman was well supported by Murali Vijay (45) and Abhishek Nayar (34).
India Red, who lost their first match against India Blue, thus kept themselves in the hunt for a place in the final Sunday.
India Green would take on India Blue on Saturday to decide the finalists.
Electing to bat, India Green, led by Mohammad Kaif, were off to a blazing start through Naman Ojha (96) and Shikhar Dhwan (45). A collapase at the end though dashed their hopes of a bigger target.
Ojha and Dhawan put on 102 runs in 19 overs, laying the foundation of a formidable score.
After Dhawan's exit, Ojha and Suresh Raina (58) stitched together 95 runs and it seemed that India Green would cross the 300 mark. But thereafter their batsmen lost the plot as Piyush Chawla (3/50) and Parveen Kumar (2/51) rocked their middle order. India Green lost their last eight wickets in nine overs.
Chawla triggered a collapse when he removed both the set batsmen - Ojha and Raina - in one over. The lower order then surrendered, trying to step up the run rate in the final overs.
The India Red batting revolved around Rohit, who put on 75 runs with Vijay, and then a 50 run stand with skipper Subramaniam Badrinath (27) after the fall of opener Faiz Fazal.
But India Green came back into the match with the scalps of Badrinath and Manoj Tiwari. India Red were 171/4 in 39 over at one stage and the equation was a run-a-ball, but Rohit and Nayar saw the team through the difficult situtation with a 86 run partnership.
Rohit hit some exquisite stroke in his 120 ball innings, inclusive of 13 boundaries and two sixes.