The cricketers shivered in the cold even as 500-odd fans turned up to cheer them up at the Palam ground on Sunday. The fans returned home happy with good knocks to enjoy from Ian Bell and M. Vijay as India ‘A’ beat England XI by 53 runs in the warm-up fixture.

The game was reduced to 39 overs a side due to poor light halting play in the morning. The sun broke through and cricket resumed with the English feeling much at home, icy winds and the gloomy weather making it a tough day for those present at the venue.

England chose to bowl in amiable conditions but Vijay and left-handed Abhinav Mukund gave the India ‘A’ innings the impetus it needed at the top. They batted with assurance and came up with rousing shots in front and square. “It was an important phase because a lot depended on a good start. Both looked in form and sound in technique,” said coach Lalchand Rajput.

Mukund hit five boundaries and Vijay eight fours and two sixes before getting out in succession.

Maharashtra’s prolific scorer Kedar Jadhav, with a triple century this season, then produced a useful half century and Rajasthan all-rounder Ashok Menaria hit two sixes as India ‘A’ presented England XI a competitive target, revised to 229.

Kevin Pietersen held the key but he fell cheaply.

England XI batted without purpose as the spirited India ‘A’ team put up an encouraging display, bowling to a plan.

“We had done our homework and concentrated on denying their batsmen their favourite shots. It worked,” remarked Rajput.

Barring Bell, who struck eight fours and two sixes, none of the batsmen showed the will and the application to deny the India ‘A’ attack its goal.

S. Sreesanth bowled from a shortened run-up and made an impression.

“It allowed him greater control,” explained Rajput.

There was success for Menaria and Jammu and Kashmir off-spinner Parveez Rasool got two overs to mark his attendance.

Seamers Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey did well along with off-spinner Jalaj Saxena.

The jarring note from the India ‘A’ camp came in the shoddy manner in which the home players assembled this morning for the introduction ceremony involving the teams.

The scores:

India ‘A’ : A. Mukund st. Kieswetter b Tredwell 57, M. Vijay b Patel 76, K. Jadhav (not out) 52, A. Menaria c Pietersen b Denrbach 17, J. Saxena c Patel b Dernbach 2, R. Bist (not out) 3, Extras (b-4, lb-6, nb-2, w-5) 17, Total (for four wkts. in 39 overs) 224.

Fall of wickets: 1-118, 2-150, 3-194, 4-210.

England XI bowling: S. Finn 7-0-42-0, J. Dernbach 7-1-23-2, T. Bresnan 8-0-47-0, C. Woakes 7-0-45-0, J. Tredwell 7-0-36-1, S. Patel 3-0-21-1.

England XI: K. Pietersen c Mukund b Sreesanth 19, I. Bell c Motwani b Sharma 91, S. Patel lbw b Pandey 4, E. Morgan c Vijay b Saxena 4, J. Buttler c Jadhav b Saxena 6, C. Kieswetter c Motwani b Sharma 0, C. Woakes lbw b Menaria 3, T. Bresnan c Pandey b Menaria 22, J. Tredwell (run out) 0, S. Finn b Menaria 15, J. Dernbach (not out) 3, Extras (lb-3, w-5) 8, Total (in 36 overs) 175.

Fall of wickets: 1-32, 2-42, 3-54, 4-64, 5-65, 6-72, 7-116, 8-117, 9-168.

India ‘A’ bowling: S. Sreesanth 7-1-16-1, I. Pandey 6-0-29-1, M. Sharma 8-0-55-2, J. Saxena 5-2-13-2, A. Menaria 7-0-43-3, P. Rasool 3-0-16-0.

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