Cuttack:On a high after registering a bonus point win over India Red, defending champions India Blue will look to clinch a final berth when they take on India Green in the Challenger Series for the NKP Salve Trophy at Barabati Stadium on Friday.
An authoritative 96 from India discard Robin Uthappa against India Red yesterday meant that the Karnataka batsman is back to his grooves which will be a reason for concern for the Mohammad Kaif-led India Green.
All-rounder Irfan Pathan was also instrumental in the win having contributed a quickfire 43 on a slow and low Barabati pitch and later the Baroda medium-pacer effected two dismissals.
Delhi pacer Pradeep Sangwan, playing in his first Challenger tournament, was fiery and economical in his six-over spell which earned the India Blue the wicket of Piyush Chawla who was sent at number three to push the run rate.
"I had nice first match outing in Challenger. With the bonus point win, we are now favourites for the summit clash on Sunday. The pitch was slow and sometimes there was low bounce, I just have to maintain my line and length without experimenting when we take on Green tomorrow," the Delhi bowler said.
The only reason of worry for India Blue could be Yuvraj Singh's poor run of form. Just when the India Blue captain was looking set, a careless shot cost him his wicket and the Punjab batsman departed for just seven.
Not reading too much into his failure, Yuvraj though said, "As long as our team won, I am happy."
The fact that Barabati pitch is low and slow must be a good sign for local boy Pragyan Ojha who will play in front of his home crowd for the first time. The left-arm spinner will be a formidable pair with off-spinner Yusuf Pathan who will look to explode while batting against India Blue.
In-form Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli will be the mainstay of India Green batting, while the pace battery will be looked after by India veteran Rudra Pratap Singh and Manpreet Gony.
India Blue: Yuvraj Singh (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Kaarthick (vice-captain, wk), Ravinder Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda, Pradeep Sangwan, Chetanya Nanda, Arjun Yadav, Siddharth Trivedi, R. Ashwin.
India Green: Mohammad Kaif (captain), Shikhar Dhiwan, Naman Ojha, Suresh Raina, Cheteshwar Pujara, Saurabh Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manpreet Gony, Rudra Pratap Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Rajat Bhatia, Abhinav Kumar, Pankaj Singh.
Umpires: SS Hazare, SK Tarapore
TV Umpire: Amish Saheba
Match Referee: Raju Mukherjee.