Uthappa, Anirudha star for India Green
India Green 348 for 9 (Uthappa 132, Anirudha 111, Sangwan 4-58) beat India Blue 269 (Tiwary 74, Fallah 3-59) by 79 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A blistering opening partnership between Robin Uthappa and S Anirudha set up an impressive win for India Green against India Blue in Nagpur, and secured their place in the final of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. India Green were asked to bat first once again, however, this time they made better use of the fine platform laid by their openers and piled up 348 for 9 in their 50 overs to all but shut India Blue out of the match at the halfway stage.
Uthappa carried his form from the first match into this game, launching his aggressive knock with a lofted four to long-off and a well-executed pull off Irfan Pathan. Anirudha played the support role in the pair's century stand in the previous game, but here he matched Uthappa shot for shot. He struck Irfan for two boundaries as well, before depositing a short ball on the leg stump from Pradeep Sangwan beyond long-on.
The pair was aided by some wayward bowling from Irfan early on, as he repeatedly strayed on to the pads in an attempt to get the ball to swing in. India Blue captain S Badrinath tried to stem the flow of runs by bringing on Amit Mishra in the fifth over, but Uthappa and Anirudha continued to pick up fours and sixes at will. After the openers pummelled 34 runs off two overs, India Green had raced to 86 after eight. Unlike against India Red though, they did not waste their fine starts and pushed on to centuries, bringing the 200 up as early as the 23rd over.
The bowlers finally found some relief after Uthappa retired. Mohammad Kaif struggled to keep the momentum going before rushing down the track and playing down the wrong line to hand Mishra his first wicket. Anirudha gifted his wicket away, lofting a full toss on the leg stump to midwicket off part-timer M Vijay. Uthappa returned after India Green lost Mohnish Mishra and Ishank Jaggi in quick succession, but could not match his early tempo, striking just one more four before P Parameswaran had him bowled. Sangwan claimed wickets late in the innings as the batsmen looked for quick runs, to finish with 4 for 58 form his ten.
India Blue, who needed to win to make the final, made a poor start in the chase as Tanmay Srivastava edged behind off left-arm medium pacer Samad Fallah, with CM Gautham completing a spectacular diving catch. Vijay and Saurabh Tiwary did not let the asking-rate get out of reach though, in an 87-run stand for the second wicket at better than a run-a-ball. After Vijay fell, beaten by Iqbal Abdulla's turn, Dinesh Karthik provided Tiwary with adequate support. The pair added 48 before Tiwary hit straight to Jaggi at long-off, cutting short his promising innings of 74 off 70. India Blue had one last go at the target through Karthik and Manish Pandey, before Karthik was adjudged lbw off Abhimanyu Mithun for 49.
From then on, wickets fell at regular intervals and the required rate soared, and India Green closed out the game in the 42nd over courtesy a fine tumbling catch by Kaif to get rid of Sangwan. Badrinath, who had gone off the field during the first drinks break of the India Green innings, did not bat. Uthappa was named Man of the Match.
India Green will play India Red in the final on Thursday at the same venue.