Indian batsmen battle hard to stay in the hunt

Indian batsmen battle hard to stay in the hunt

Indian batsmen battle hard to stay in the hunt

In the absence of stars like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan, fans flocked the Gangotri Glades to catch a glimpse of Test sensation Cheteshwar Pujara.

The Saurashtra batsman, who was leading India ‘A’ in the first unofficial ‘Test’ against West Indies ‘A’, walked in to a grand ovation from four-thousand plus spectators and played out eight deliveries with typical nonchalance. However, his feet were planted on the crease as he lunged forward and pushed Miguel Cummins uppishly to Kieron Powell at short cover, signalling the end of his nine-ball stay.

Disappointed spectators made their way out of the venue, but had they known that KL Rahul  (46, 132m, 100b, 7x4) and Manpreet Juneja (47 n.o, 103m, 77b, 7x4) would go on an entertaining surge to carry India ‘A’ to a position of relative comfort by the end of the second day, they might have stayed back to witness aggression and caution coming together to create a perfect blend.

The duo added 60 crucial runs for the third wicket to propel India ‘A’ to 124 for three in 43 overs, in reply to West Indies’ first innings score of 429 all out in 135 overs. The hosts trail by 305 runs.

The score at stumps, however, barely reflected the state Indians found themselves early on in the day. After Assad Fudadin (86 n.o., 277m, 201b, 10x4, 1x6), Chadwick Walton (35, 48m, 41b, 4x4, 2x6) and Nikita Miller (49, 103m, 86b, 5x4) came up with good scores to help the visitors go from their respectable overnight score of 264 for five to a formidable 400-plus total, India had a stiff task at hand.

At that point, the lone crumb of comfort was a brilliant five-wicket haul by Parvez Rasool, who fired in 45 overs (45-13-116-5) without letting up on accuracy. The hosts had to work towards overcoming a big total, and the Indian openers -- Rahul and Jiwanjot Singh -- seemed ready for the challenge.

Of the two batsmen, Rahul looked a lot more comfortable. While Rahul was skillfully handling pacers and spinners alike, Jiwanjot, who had little trouble facing pacers, could not master the left-arm spin of Veeraswammy Permaul. The right-hander was often found pushing and prodding at deliveries darting away from him. He eventually fell to one such delivery that found his outside edge and carried to ’keeper Walton.

Although disappointed that India had lost a wicket, the crowd went into a frenzy when Pujara came to the crease. Their joy was short lived as the right-hander exited the scene in a mere ten minutes.

Pujara’s dismissal with the score on 49 for two brought in Juneja, and the 23-year-old Gujarat batsman stunned whoever stayed back at the venue with an aggressive knock. On the other end, local lad Rahul accumulated runs with ease.

Rahul -- in a momentary lapse in concentration -- fell misguiding his cut off Nikita Miller straight into the hands of Leon Johnson at first slip with the team score on 109. All the while Juneja was solid at one end, giving India hope of a better day in the office on the morrow.

score board

WEST INDIES ‘A’ (I Innings, O/n: 264/5): Kraigg Brathwaite c Motwani b Rasool 92 (286m, 215b, 12x4), Kieron Powell lbw Shami 0 (10m, 5b), Kirk Edwards b Pandey 91 (234m, 162b, 11x4, 1x6), Narsingh Deonarine c&b Rasool 28 (61m, 44b, 2x4, 1x6), Assad Fudadin (not out) 86 (277m, 201b, 10x4, 1x6), Leon Johnson lbw Paliwal 10 (30m, 21b, 2x4), Chadwick Walton lbw Pandey 35 (48m, 41b, 4x4, 2x6), Nikita Miller (run out) 49 (103m, 86b, 5x4), Veerasammy Permaul c Pujara b Rasool 11 (36m, 21b, 2x4), Delorn Johnson c Shami b Rasool 0 (8m, 4b), Miguel Cummins lbw Rasool 6 (27m, 15b, 1x4). Extras (B-7, LB-9, NB-5) 21. Total (all out, 135 overs) 429.
Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-175, 3-211, 4-223, 5-237, 6-276, 7-364, 8-406, 9-412.
Bowling: Mohammed Shami 21-2-75-1 (nb-1), Ishwar Pandey 27-7-69-2, Ashok Dinda 25-2-80-0 (nb-4), Parvez Rasool 45-13-116-5, Rajat Paliwal 13-3-56-1, Harshad Khadiwale 4-0-17-0.
INDIA ‘A’ (I Innings): KL Rahul c Leon Johnson b Miller 46 (132m, 100b, 7x4), Jiwanjot Singh c Walton b Permaul 16 (61m, 39b, 1x4), Cheteshwar Pujara c Powell b Cummins 3 (10m, 9b), Manpreet Juneja (batting) 47 (103m, 77b, 7x4), Harshad Khadiwale (batting) 5 (43m, 36b). Extras (B-4, NB-3) 7. Total (for 3 wkts, 43 overs) 124.
Fall of wickets: 1-45 (Jiwanjot), 2-49 (Pujara), 3-109 (Rahul).
Bowling: Miguel Cummins 12-1-37-1 (nb-3), Delorn Johnson 9-3-28-0, Veerasammy Permaul 13-2-45-1, Nikita Miller 9-4-10-1.

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