India Blue rally to make 218

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Cuttack, Oct 25 (UNI) In-form Robin Uthappa hit a valuable 76 to guide defending champions India Blue to a competitive total of 218 in the truncated third and last league match of the Challenger Series for the NKP Salve Trophy at the Barabati Stadium here today.

Uthappa, who slammed 94 to help India Blue win the opening tie against India Red two days ago, mixed caution with aggression to script another fine knock that featured five hits to the rope and three over it. Useful contributions by stumper Yogesh Takawala (34) and Irfan Pathan (28) enabled India Blue to cross the 200 run mark.

Yusuf Pathan was the most successful India Green bowler, bagging three wickets, including that of his younger brother Irfan.

Put into bat India Blue were in dire straits, loosing opener Virat Kohli and captain Yuvraj Singh with only 19 runs on the board.

With the wicket playing slow and low from the beginning and the weather condition remaining overcast, batting looked to be a difficult task.

Kohli survived a couple of anxious overs before being castled by R P Singh for 9. Captain Yuvraj Singh, who embroiled himself in a controversy for his alleged misbehavour, followed soon making just three. He attempted to pull R P Singh but the ball came late and kept low to disturb his timbers.

It was second successive failure with the bat for Yuvi, who had hoped to regain his form by hitting a double century in the ongoing series.

India Blue made a partial recovery as Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik gathered 37 runs for the third wicket. Karthik, who has been struggling for runs, was unlucky today as he fell to a debatable decision.

Earlier, India Green skipper Mohammad Kaif won the toss and put India Blue into bat. Overnight rain and a delayed start reduced the match to 45 overs.

For the Greens, Rajat Bhatia came in for Laxmi Ratan Shukla. The Blues made three changes, replacing Ajinkya Rahane, Ravinder Singh and S Trivedi by Yogesh Takawale, Arjun Yadav, and Ashok Dinda.

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