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Uthappa ushers in Green revolution

The first two games of the Challenger Series hardly saw anyone, including Harbhajan Singh, make an impression at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground. Amol Karhadkar reports. Scorecard

cricket Updated: Oct 13, 2011 01:43 IST
Amol Karhadkar

The first two games of the Challenger Series hardly saw anyone, including Harbhajan Singh, make an impression at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/13-10-11-metro18b.jpg

However, Wednesday was different as Robin Uthappa and Anirudha Srikkanth impressed the three national selectors in attendance with a hurricane opening stand that lifted India Green into Thursday's final against India Red.

Riding on the centuries of the openers and their mammoth 203-run partnership off just 23 overs, India Green defeated India Blue by 79 runs in the last league game, which was a virtual semifinal.

After an impressive 100-run opening stand a day earlier against India Red, Uthappa and Anirudha had thrown away their wickets. On Wednesday, they showed that they had learnt from their mistakes.

The first 23 overs were like a highlights package, with boundaries flowing at will. While both matched each other in strokeplay, as was evident in the eighth over when Anirudha started off with successive boundaries off Pradeep Sangwan, only to see Uthappa end the over in the same manner, what was impressive was that most of the strokes were copybook shots.

Left-arm seamer Sangwan and leggie Amit Mishra faced most of the brunt early on with 55 runs being plundered off the latter's first four overs. Mishra, though, made a strong comeback with two scalps.

Despite the comeback, a target of 349 was always going to be a stiff task, especially with skipper S Badrinath, the ideal man to hold up one end, being ruled out with an injury.

Saurabh Tiwary, making his first appearance, did play an impressive knock, raising his team's hopes. But once he holed out to Ishank Jaggi at long-off, off Iqbal Abdulla, the writing was on the wall.

No ambush Marketing

Most players in the Challenger Series end up sporting various logos on their helmets, which affects the interests of the host broadcaster. Some of the leading names include the Mumbai Indians trio - Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu and T Suman, who joined their respective squads hours after the CLT20 triumph. However, an objection by the broadcaster after the first two games saw all logos being either removed or covered as the players took the field on Wednesday.

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