Uthappa ton carries Red home

Opener hits unbeaten 157


Air India Red players are all smiles after clinching the inaugural BCCI Corporate Trohy on Tuesday. dh photo

When he is on song, as he was for the most part of three and a half hours at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Tuesday afternoon, Uthappa is a sight for sore eyes. While there is no disputing the immense power with which he brutalises the cricket ball, the 23-year-old is equally capable of delicate touch and deft placement, facets he revealed in ample measure during the course of a memorable unbeaten century (157 n.o., 148b, 11x4, 6x6) in front of a couple of thousand adoring home fans.

Uthappa carried his bat through the innings to make light of Yuvraj Singh losing his first toss of the competition, helping Air India (Red) post an intimidating 284 for eight. For Harbhajan Singh’s Air India (Blue) to make a match of it under lights necessitated at least a couple of batsmen to play out of their skins.

With that hardly forthcoming, the Reds crowned themselves champions following the all-Air India summit clash, romping home by 93 runs after dismissing the Blues for 191.

The Reds’ innings was almost entirely about Uthappa. Completely dominating stands of handy if hardly mammoth proportions with the increasingly impressive Sushant Marathe, Yuvraj and Suresh Raina, the Coorg lad stamped his authority on pacers and spinners like in no uncertain terms, taking a particular liking to strapping seamer Pankaj Singh and Harbhajan.

Robin Uthappa poses with the man-of-the-match trophy. DH PHOTO Only left-arm paceman Rudra Pratap Singh, bowling as well as figures of 10-1-37-1 suggest, commanded respect from the right-hander, whose silken off-side play was in stark contrast to bruising leg-side pyrotechnics marked by meaty slog-sweeps and crunching pulls. The only time he put a foot wrong was when, a ball after depositing Harbhajan over the mid-wicket ropes, he essayed a pull that went straight to Mohammad Kaif at mid-wicket. The normally impeccable Kaif put down the sitter.

Then 63, Uthappa needed no second invitation as he got on the bike and powered away, shepherding the lower-order excellently to help the Reds tide over a potential late-innings crisis.

The Blues’ hopes rested largely with not just a solid but a spectacular beginning, and Manvinder Singh Bisla appeared to be obliging until a poor piece of judgement in running between the wickets cut short his stay.

Chandan Madan, looking nowhere near the fluent right-hander who made an excellent century in the semifinal against Tata Sports Club, and an industrious Mohammad Kaif were beginning to get the run-chase back on track when the golden arm of Yuvraj arrived at the bowling crease, and dissipated what little interest might have been left in the matter of two deliveries. Madan adjudged man of the tournanent. With his first delivery, Yuvraj accounted for Kaif, who played down the wrong line and was trapped plumb in front as the ball straightened and struck him on the back foot.  Mahendra Singh Dhoni went first ball, offering a tame return catch to his India deputy, and that simply was that.

The Reds took home the first prize of Rs 1 crore, while the Blues were richer by Rs 50 lakh.

SCORE- BOARD

AIR INDIA RED: Naman Ojha c Madan b RP Singh 0 (2b), Robin Uthappa (not out) 157 (148b, 11x4, 6x6), Sushant Marathe c Dhoni b Harbhajan 36 (32b, 4x4, 1x6), Yuvraj Singh c Sodhi b Rana 17 (39b), Suresh Raina c Kaif b Pankaj 28 (24b, 2x4), Paul Valthaty b Pankaj 18 (23b, 2x4), Ankit Chavan b Harbhajan 10 (17b, 1x4), Ajit Chandila c Dhoni b Harbhajan 3 (6b), Moondeep Mangela c Pankaj b Harbhajan 4 (7b), Dhawal Kulkarni (not out) 1 (2b). Extras (B-1, LB-2, W-7) 10. Total (for 8 wkts, 50 overs) 284.

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Ojha), 2-79 (Marathe), 3-136 (Yuvraj), 4-180 (Raina), 5-219 (Valthaty), 6-246 (Chavan), 7-254 (Chandila), 8-271 (Mangela).

Bowling: Rudra Pratap Singh 10-1-37-1 (w-1), Pankaj Singh 9-0-64-2 (w-2), Sachin Rana 7-0-39-1 (w-1), Harbhajan Singh 10-0-55-4 (w-1), Sonu Sharma 10-0-49-0 (w-2), Mohammad Kaif 1-0-13-0, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 3-0-24-0.

AIR INDIA BLUE: Chandan Madan b Chavan 85 (126b, 9x4), Manvinder Singh Bisla (run out) 10 (11b, 2x4), Mohammad Kaif lbw Yuvraj 32 (33b, 5x4), Mahendra Singh Dhoni c & b Yuvraj 0 (1b), Shafiq Khan c Raina b Chavan 6 (19b), Sachin Rana (run out) 2 (7b), Reetinder Singh Sodhi c Uthappa b Yuvraj 11 (15b), Harbhajan Singh c Valthaty b Kulkarni 9 (15b, 1x4), Rudra Pratap Singh b Netravalkar 6 (10b), Pankaj Singh (not out) 8 (15b, 1x4), Sonu Sharma lbw Chavan 0 (1b). Extras (LB-7, W-12, NB-3) 22. Total (all out, 41.5 overs) 191.

Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Bisla), 2-88 (Kaif), 3-88 (Dhoni), 4-105 (Shafiq), 5-110 (Rana), 6-133 (Sodhi), 7-155 (Harbhajan), 8-169 (RP Singh), 9-191 (Madan).
Bowling: Dhawal Kulkarni 9-1-41-1 (w-3, nb-1), Saurabh Netravalkar 8-0-40-1 (w-3, nb-1), Moondeep Mangela 5-0-26-0 (nb-1), Ajit Chandila 2-0-18-0 (w-1), Yuvraj Singh 10-0-30-3, Ankit Chavan 7.5-0-29-3 (w-5).

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