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Uthappa saves Green the blushes

cricket Updated: Oct 26, 2008 00:02 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
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The conditions changed overnight. From bright sunshine in the last three days and a bone-dry Barabati Stadium wicket getting slower and lower every day that was turning out to be a spinner's paradise, late night rain and an overcast Saturday changed it to something medium-pacers thrived on.

Rudra Pratap Singh, Pankaj Singh and Manpreet Gony of Green made life difficult for Blue batsmen getting the ball to move off the pitch. A strong breeze blowing across the ground facilitated movement in the air as well.

Pankaj forced an edge off Virat Kohli in the second ball of the innings, but skipper Mohammad Kaif, who chose to field, dropped a straightforward catch at second slip.

He did not survive long. He pushed late at an RP Singh delivery in the fourth over and the ball took an inside edge to rattle the stumps.

Deliveries zipped into wicketkeeper Naman Ojha's gloves and both Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh struggled. The latter in particular had another torrid time in the middle and was bowled by R.P. Singh when he tried to pull a slower in-cutter.

Uthappa rode his luck to an 88-ball 76 that gave some meat to the Blue total.

He had been bowled off a no ball by RP Singh when he was on 13 which television replays showed was a legitimate delivery and hit the resulting free-hit ball to the extra-cover fence.

Again in the 40s RP failed to get to a catch at mid-off. Uthappa got to his second 50 in two matches with a six over mid-wicket off Pragyan Ojha and was finally out given leg-before when he tried to play across the line to the left-arm spinner.

Dinesh Karthik would consider himself a little unlucky in the way he was given out.

The fielders had gone up with an appeal for a caught-behind and umpire Sanjay Hazare upheld it. Replays showed that the ball, delivered by Gony, missed bat and brushed pad on the way to the keeper.

Blue are already in Sunday's final of the N.K.P. Salve Challenger Trophy thanks to the bonus point they won against Red in the first match.

After Friday's loss against Red, Green skipper Kaif left out Bengal skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla and gave Delhi all-rounder Rajat Bhatia a game.

Blue, on the other hand, chose to try out three more players.

They left out medium-pacer Siddharth Trivedi, opener Ajinkya Rahane and middle-order batsman Ravinder Singh and got Bengal medium-pacer Ashok Dinda, Mumbai wicketkeeper Yogesh Takawale and Hyderabad all-rounder Arjun Yadav.

The start of the match was delayed by an hour as water had seeped in through the covers and a wet patch had formed on the pitch and the groundsmen had to use an electric iron to dry it out.