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India Blue wins by 19 runs, play Red in final

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FLYING HIGH: Robin Uthappa’s fine innings gave India Blue some respectability in the Challenger series match against India Green.
FLYING HIGH: Robin Uthappa’s fine innings gave India Blue some respectability in the Challenger series match against India Green.

S. Sabanayakan

CRICKET / Robin Uthappa’s superb knock rescues the side after a disastrous start

Pujara’s knock and his partnership with Yusuf the bright spots for Green

Yusuf shines with ball too, with figures of three for 21 from his six overs

CUTTACK: Nothing went right for India Green in a do-or-die battle against India Blue in the third match of the N.K.P. Salve Challenger Trophy at the Barabati Stadium here on Saturday. Set a victory target of 219 in 45 overs, the top order miserably failed and a middle order recovery was not good enough.

India Green innings ended at 199 in 44 overs thus giving Blue a 19-run win with an over to spare. On Sunday, India Blue will take on India Red in the final.

Young Cheteshwar Pujara stood firm amid the ruins of India Green with a gritty 65 off 99 balls and his 58-ball 59-run partnership with Yusuf Pathan (34, 32b, 2x4, 2x6) was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dull display by Green.

The victory ensured India Blue four points; it had earned five from its first match against India Red. The latter’s victory over India Green earned it four points. After deducting one point that it conceded as bonus to Blue, Red ended with three points.

Fighting total

On an overcast day, India Green skipper Mohammad Kaif won the toss and asked the opposition to take first strike to exploit the moisture in the pitch. It looked as if the decision was vindicated as opener Virat Kohli and captain Yuvraj Singh departed in quick succession to leave the team tottering at 19 for two in 5.5 overs.

But the side reached a fighting total of 218 in 44.2 overs thanks mainly to Robin Uthappa’s superb 76 (88b, 5x4, 3x6), Yogesh Takawale’s 34 and the duo’s 58-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

Later, Irfan Pathan came up with a quick 28 that helped India Blue to reach a competitive total. The game started late and was reduced to 45 overs each side.

After the fall of Kohli and Yuvraj, Dinesh Karthik joined Uthappa and began to repair the damage, but the former was given out leg before plunging India Blue into deep trouble. As Arjun Yadav too left at 87 in the 22nd over, it was completely left to Uthappa and the new man Yogesh Takawale to take charge of the situation.

And, for the next nine overs the two played sensibly and added a valuable 58-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

The stocky opener, surviving a chance off Pankaj Singh at long-off when Rudra Pratap Singh failed to judge the skier, reached his half century by clouting left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha for a six.

Uthappa hit two more sixes off Ojha and Rajat Bhatia before falling to the Hyderabad spinner playing across.

R.P. Singh gets stick

The three-man pace attack bowled extremely well though Rudra Pratap Singh got a bit of a stick. Left-armer Ojha too proved expensive.

Yusuf Pathan, who was brought on late, had the best figures of three for 21 in six overs.

He saved his best bowling for his younger sibling, ultimately getting his wicket.

India Blue brought in Yogesh Takawale of Mumbai, Ashok Dinda of Bengal and Arjun Yadav of Hyderabad for Ajinkya Rahane, Siddharth Trivedi and Ravinder Singh.

India Green left out an indisposed Laxmi Ratan Shukla and included Rajat Bhatia of Delhi.

The scores:

India Blue: V. Kohli b R.P. Singh 9, R. Uthappa lbw b P. Ojha 76, Yuvraj Singh b R.P. Singh 3, D. Karthick lbw b Gony 10, A. Yadav lbw b P. Singh 16, Y. Takawale c P. Ojha b Y. Pathan 34, I. Pathan b Y. Pathan 28 R. Ashwin c Gony b Y. Pathan 10, P. Sangwan (not out) 6, C. Nanda (run out) 8, A. Dinda b Gony 0, Extras (lb-1, w-11, nb-6) 18; Total (in 44.2 overs) 218.

Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-19, 3-56, 4-87, 5-145, 6-166, 7-201, 8-202, 9-217.

India Green bowling: P. Singh 9-1-27-1, R.P. Singh 8-0-56-2, M. Gony 6.2-1-18-2, P. Ojha 8-0-60-1, R. Bhatia 7-0-35-0, Y. Pathan 6-0-21-3.

India Green: N. Ojha c Takawale b I. Pathan 11, S. Dhawan c Kohli b I. Pathan 7, S. Raina c Sangwan b Dinda 16, M. Kaif lbw b Nanda 7, C. Pujara c Nanda b Ashwin 65, R. Bhatia c Takawale b Nanda 10, Y. Pathan c & b Ashwin 34, R.P. Singh c Karthick b Ashwin 11, M. Gony c Kohli b Sangwan 9, P. Ojha run out 1, P. Singh (not out) 5, Extras (b-4, lb-12, w-6, nb-1) 23; Total (in 44 overs) 199.

Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-39, 3-40, 4-77, 5-95, 6-154, 7-174, 8-182, 9-189.

India Blue bowling: I. Pathan 9-0-30-2, P. Sangwan 8-0-39-1, A. Dinda 8-2-32-1, C. Nanda 9-0-31-2, R. Ashwin 9-0-46-3, Y. Singh 1-0-5-0.

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