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India A spinners even out the opening day

by   •  Last updated on 2020-04-13 16:55:26

India A started their South African tour by claiming the tri-series, involving the hosts and Afghanistan A. However, they got a reality check in the first unofficial Test where they were thrashed by 235 runs and things seemed to be heading in the same direction after Aiden Markram and Stephen Cook added a 167-run partnership, but the spinners brought them back in the contest with five quick wickets.

South Africa A captain Markram won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat, which they had done successfully in the first game too. Both teams had made a few changes to their starting line-ups, the hosts making four while India A replaced Aniket Choudhary and Mohammed Siraj with Krishnappa Gowtham and Ankit Rajpoot.

The incoming players were faced with a tough task of bowling first on a batsmen-friendly wicket and there were not many options in the armoury as well as India fielded only four regular bowlers. The first session itself indicated that a hard day's work was in store as the South African openers Markram and Cook remained unbeaten while adding 70 runs.

The post-lunch session saw the duo reach their respective fifties and extend the stand further. Karun Nair, the India A skipper, was running short of resources and the partnership kept gaining momentum.

Just when it looked like both batsmen were on course to register tons, Gowtham struck with the wicket of Markram (74). Shahbaz Nadeem soon followed it with the wicket of Cook, who fell two short of his hundred, and India had an opening after almost 60 overs.

The spin twins operated in tandem and accounted for the the dangerous David Miller, as South Africa lost three wickets in the space of 12 overs and India A started to dictate terms. Navdeep Saini trapped Jason Smith and Nadeem cleaned up Heinrich Klaasen, as South Africa slipped from 167 for 0 to 207 for 5.

South Africa though recovered from that mini collapse with a 51-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Omphile Ramela (39*) and Andile Phehlukwayo (15*). The pair battled through the second new ball and ensured that the hosts did not lose any more wickets.

The spinners did the majority of the work for the visitors. Gowtham and Nadeem bowled 61 overs between them, while the fast bowling duo of Rajpoot and Saini were used only when the ball was new and hard.

Brief scores: South Africa A 258/5 (Stephen Cook 98, Aiden Markram 74; Gowtham 2-74, Nadeem 2-101) v India A.