Finally, there was cricket.
Some 65 minutes after the scheduled start on the second day, the second ‘Test’ between India-A and New Zealand-A at last got underway: the steady drizzle had stopped and the dark clouds drifted away from above the picturesque KSCA Stadium on Friday morning.
The cricket was riveting, too — until rain brought an early close with about 25 minutes still remaining. The host had reached 229 for six, a considerable improvement from its score earlier in the day.
After the visiting seamers did well to send all the three century-makers from the first ‘Test’ back to the dressing room rather quickly, skipper Priyank Panchal (87, 148b, 12x4, 2x6) and wicketkeeper K.S. Bharat (74 batting, 104b, 10x4) staged a splendid fightback with their fifth-wicket stand of 117.
The Kiwi bowlers had justified their captain Tom Bruce’s decision, reducing India-A to 68 for four at one stage. Abhimanyu Easwaran, whose smooth drives on the off-side suggested he might continue from where he left off at Bengaluru, was the first to go. Logan van Beek’s ball swung quite some way and had the opener edging to slip.
Like Abhimanyu, the two other centurions from the first ‘Test’, Rajat Patidar and Tilak Varma, also failed against New-Zealand-A’s fine seam attack that also featured Jacob Duffy, Benjamin Lister and Sean Solia. They were getting good bounce and moving the ball, and didn’t allow the batters to settle down.
But for Panchal’s tenacity and determination, they would have put the Indian innings under more pressure. The captain played a spirited knock, and in Bharat, he found the badly-needed support to steady the ship.
Their partnership ended when Panchal gave a catch to short cover, off Solia. Bharat, however, continued his vigil, and played some pleasing strokes, too.
India-A — 1st innings: Priyank Panchal c Cleaver b Solia 87, Abhimanyu Easwaran c Bruce b van Beek 22, Ruturaj Gaikwad c Fletcher b van Beek 5, Rajat Patidar c & b Duffy 4, Tilak Varma b Duffy 0, K.S. Bharat (batting) 74, Shardul Thakur c Chapman b Ravindra 26, Rahul Chahar (batting) 4; Extras (lb-1, nb-1, w-5): 7; Total (for five wkts. in 66 overs): 229.
Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2-53, 3-62, 4-68, 5-185, 6-223.
New Zealand-A bowling: Duffy 18-5-55-2, Lister 16-1-41-0, van Beek 12-2-39-2, Ravindra 6-2-20-1, Solia 12-2-58-1, Rippon 2-0-15-0.