India 'A' bowlers have SA 'A' on the mat

India 'A' bowlers have SA 'A' on the mat

Mohammad Siraj of India 'A' celebrates after dismissing a South Africa 'A' batsman on the opening day of the four-day match in Bengaluru on Saturday. DH Photo/ Ranju P

The South Africa ‘A’ batsmen made merry against an inexperienced Board President’s XI attack in the warm-up tie. However, against India ‘A’, the visitors faced the challenges of playing a better team.

Runs were hard to come by for Khaya Zondo’s men. On the back of a fine 94 (139b, 12x4) by Rudy Second and a fighting 47 (120b, 7x4) from Sarel Erwee, South Africa ‘A’ laboured to 246 for eight at the end of the opening day of the first four-day game here at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Saturday. 

The India ‘A’ pace battery didn’t look menacing but it got rewards for its discipline. Mohammed Siraj, with an effort of 20-3-56-3, was the hosts’ most impactful bowler of the day. Rajneesh Gurbani (2/47) and Navdeep Saini (2/47) kept up the pressure and shared four wickets between them.

Yuzvendra Chahal (1/54) was the biggest name in the India ‘A’ bowling line-up but with very little assistance for spin on the surface, the leg-spinner was easily negotiated by the visiting batsmen.   

Siraj’s confidence from the successful England tour was apparent. Playing for India ‘A’, the Hyderabadi pacer bagged 15 wickets from two first-class games (England Lions and West Indies A). Despite the surface slower later in the day, the 24-year-old kept coming hard at the batsmen. “My focus was to keep the ball in the right areas. As the day progresses, it becomes harder for a pacer and you need to put extra effort to get wickets,” he said.   

It needed a good mix of caution and sensible batting from South Africa ‘A’ to survive the first hour of the day. But a callous approach reduced them to 20 for two by the seventh over. Siraj, getting enough movement to trouble the batsmen, dismissed Pieter Malan caught behind. Zubayr Hamza fished outside the off-stump to edge it to Mayank Agarwal of first slip to hand Saini his first wicket of the day.

Zondo and Erwee sitched 50 runs for the third wicket but the former never looked convincing. Zonda flashed hard at anything wide but showed no foot movement. The right-hander eventually paid the price for his poor technique by knicking one to the wicketkeeper off Saini at the stroke of lunch.

Erwee grinded it out and found the odd boundaries as South Africa A chugged along. But the southpaw squandered a decent start by edging a rising delivery off Gurbani to the wicketkeeper.

Unlike his team-mates, Second batted with good rhythm and scored at a fair clip. He played late to the spinners and found the gaps with ease. “I think I batted with lot of intent. I didn’t take the spinners for granted. There was good movement in the morning and our top order had to bat tight,” he explained.   


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