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Uthappa, Gambhir fire India Red into final
October 03, 2006 20:34 IST
Last Updated: October 04, 2006 00:39 IST
India Red defeated India Green by 39 runs to set up a title clash with India Blue in the Challenger Series cricket tournament, for the N KP Salve Trophy, in Chennai on Tuesday.
After scoring a daunting 317 for 4, which was largely possible due to judicious knocks by openers Robin Uthappa (92, 99 balls, 6x4, 3x6) and Gautam Gambhir (74, 93 balls, 8x4) and a late assault by local hero Dinesh Kaarthick (85, 68 balls, 8x4, 3x6), India Red picked wickets at regular intervals to bowl out India Green for 278 runs in 48.4 overs.
It turned out to be a tall order as the Greens succumbed without a fight.
Except Parthiv Patel (69, 77 balls, 7x4, 1x5) and Mohammad Kaif (34, 48 balls, 4x4) and a late charge by Mithun Manhas (34, 35 balls, 1x6, 2x4) and Piyush Chawla (55 not out, 41 balls, 5x4, 2x6), there was no worthwhile contribution as the Greens caved in without any fight.
India Green never recovered from the early exit of Sourav Ganguly and lost wickets at regular intervals.
For Reds, Ramesh Powar claimed three wickets, while Sreesanth and V R V Singh bagged two wickets each.
India Red won both the matches for a tally of eight points, while India Blue finished second with five points. India Green lost both the matches and finished with minus-one point.
Ganguly failed again, virtually derailing his hopes of making a comeback to the Indian team. The left-hander from Kolkatta lasted a mere 30 balls against India Blue on Monday.
On Tuesday, it was even shorter. He played on to a Sreesanth delivery, triggering a collapse.
Ganguly, who bowled an economic first spell of 6-0-26-0 and eventually finished with 9-0-43-0 with the ball, failed with the willow. He scored just three runs in his nine-ball essay.
With the Rest of India team for the Irani Trophy to be picked on Wednesday, the chances of him figuring in it, considering his performance in the Challenger, appear bleak.
Bowling with a lot of fire, Sreesanth then snarled Wasim Jaffer (23, 38 balls, 4x4) with a trademark off-cutter, the ball kissing the bat en route to wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik, as the Greens were reduced to 53 for two by the 12th over.
Kaif (34, 48 balls, 4x4) and Parthiv (69) revived hopes with a 70-run stand for the fourth wicket in 14.3 overs.
However, two quick wickets -- Kaif, bowled by offie Ramesh Powar and Suresh Raina (one), held by Rohit Sharma at square leg off Murali Kartik -- in a span of three balls sealed the fate as Reds tightened the noose.
Parthiv's dismissal after his 134-minute stint the crease, during which he hit seven fours and a five, doused all hopes.
As the asking rate kept climbing up, Hemang Badani (19) hit a big six before falling to the similar fashion as that of Parthiv to give Powar his third wicket. The rest of the batsmen just completed the formalities to give Reds a big win, notwithstanding an eighth wicket stand between Manhas and Chawla that yielded 71 runs in 8.3 overs.
Earlier, Uthappa and Gambhir paced their innings well. Gambhir was lucky early on as he was let off by wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel in the fourth over off Praveen Kumar with his score on one.
Captain Mohammed Kaif used Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar during the first set of power play overs and Uthappa and Gambhir scored at 6.2 runs an over between them. The second power play of five overs yielded 19 runs with Laxmipathy Balaji and Sourav Ganguly operating the bowling attack.
Ganguly bowled well and he was the only one among the six used who did not give away any boundary in his first spell of six overs which yielded 26 runs.
Gambhir was more enterprising of the openers. India Red reached 50 in 8.1 overs with Gambhir on 26 and Uthappa on 14. The 100 came in 19 overs with Gambhir 47 and his partner on 41, and the 150-mark was reached in 25 overs.
When spinner Piyush Chawla came on to bowl from the pavilion end, Uthappa lofted him to long-off, mid-wicket and then straight behind the screen for sixes.
Uthappa then received medical attention for cramps in the left leg and in the very next over, he retired with his score on 81 (5x4, 3x6).At that stage, India Red were 164 without loss.
India Green finally broke through when Piyush Chawla dismissed Gambhir, caught at mid-wicket by Suresh Raina, after he had made 74 (8x4) off 93 balls. He put on 177 runs, including 164 with Uthappa, for the first wicket.
Dinesh Karthick, replacing Uthappa, then took over, hitting at will. He reached his 50 off only 43 balls with three fours and two sixes, both off Chawla.
Rohit Sharma was the next to go caught by Mithun Minhas off Praveen Kumar for 26 after the second wicket partnership yielded 77 runs in 43 balls.
Then Uthappa, who was in the pavilion for 15 overs, came back with Rohit Sharma as runner, to join Karthick. The two entertained the crowd with their shots. Karthick once guided Balaji behind the wicket-keeper for a six.
Both fell in the space of two deliveries off Balaji. Uthappa was caught by Mohd Kaif for 92 (99 b, 6x4, 3x6) and Karthick was brilliantly caught behind by Patel for 85 (68 b, 8x4, 3x6).
Fall of wkts: 1/177, 2/254, 3/303, 4/306
Bowling: Ashish Nehra 10-0-64-0, Praveen Kumar 10-0-65-1, L Balaji 10-0-68-2, Sourav Ganguly 9-0-43-0, Piyush Chawla 10-0-67-1, Hemang Badani 1-0-4-0.
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-53, 3-68, 4-138, 5-139, 6-165, 7-178, 8-249, 9-278, 10-278.
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 10-0-67-0, Sreesanth 8-1-34-2, V R V Singh 7.4-0-54-4, Ramesh Powar 10-0-36-3, Murali Kartik 10-0-52-1, Venugopala Rao 1-0-10-0, T P Singh 1-0-10-0, Rohit Sharma 1-0-14-0.