Yusuf, openers put India Red in final
India Red 152 for 2 (Mukund 61, Gambhir 57) beat India Green 170 (Uthappa 56, Yusuf 4-25) by eight wickets by VJD method
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
India Red chased successfully for the second night on the trot to become the first team to book their place in the final of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. India Green made their job easier with a spineless batting performance, as they crumbled from 100 for 0 at better than a run-a-ball, to 170 all out in the 38th over.
That collapse was made possible by an incisive spell from Yusuf Pathan, who bowled clever lines on a pitch that was assisting spin. Assisted by Jalaj Saxena and TP Sudhindra, he made fatal incisions through the India Green line-up, to set up an easy chase. The target was reduced to 152 off 42 overs after a VJD method correction for rain, but the result was a foregone conclusion after Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund put on the second century-opening stand of the game.
The one-sided finish seemed a far cry when Robin Uthappa and S Anirudha were clattering the new ball after India Red chose to bowl. Uthappa looked out of sorts for the first couple of overs, but then opened up with a series of typically emphatic strokes against the opening bowlers. Anirudha played second fiddle in the 100-run stand, working six fours in 37 off 51 balls, while Uthappa merrily progressed past his half-century, with eight fours and a six.
Uthappa threw away the advantage with a poor shot, miscuing Sudhindra to long-on, and that opened the floodgates. T Suman, who had a forgettable Champions League, became Yusuf's first victim when he walked past an offbreak on zero. Anirudha departed in the next over to leave India Greens gasping, and Yusuf drove home the advantage with Mohnish Mishra's wicket to make it 114 for 4.
Mohammad Kaif and CM Gautam tried to repair the innings with a 36-run association that lasted nine overs, before Piyush Chawla intervened with Gautam's wicket. Harbhajan Singh then bagged a duck, leaving the tail exposed. Yusuf and Saxena quickly dismantled the lower order, to leave India Red faced with an easy chase.
Gambhir and Abhinav raced to 45 in eight overs before the dinner break. They resumed their dominance after a brief rain delay following the interval. Few chances came India Green's way after Kaif dropped Gambhir early on, and the captain cashed in with an aggressive half-century. Abhinav was more controlled at the crease, as he followed up his century in the opening game with another impressive show. Both batsmen perished after starts, but India Red won the game with time to spare.