India's frontline batsmen started their preparations for the Australia Test tour with a flurry of half-centuries in the first four-day match against New Zealand A in Mount Maunganui. The match ended in a draw, with the visiting bowlers made to toil, but the positives came from the form shown by M Vijay, Prithvi Shaw, Hanuma Vihariand Parthiv Patel. The only minor blip was Ajinkya Rahane getting out cheaply for 12, but he stayed unbeaten on 41 in the second essay to ease some nerves.
After India A opted to bat, they scored at a brisk pace - stroking 340 for 5 on the opening day. Shaw and Vijay scored 61 for the opening wicket before the latter was dismissed for 28. Mayank Agarwal made 65, Vihari scored 86 while Shaw cruised to an 88-ball 62 as the team found themselves at 184 for 2. The hosts did make a mini come back - with wickets of Agarwal and Rahane - as India A slipped to 202 for 4. Vihari and Parthiv scored 136 for the fifth wicket with the 'keeper making a solid 136-ball 94. India A declared on 467 for 8 but not before Krishnappa Gowtham and Vijay Shankar too made handy contributions.
For New Zealand A, Hamish Rutherford stroked a ton, Dane Cleaver and Seth Rance made half-centuries and there were impressive 40s from Will Young and Doug Bracewell. India's promising pace troika, however, failed to stamp their authority after putting the team in a dominating position. The hosts were reeling at 211 for 5 with the top order knocked out. Cleaver and Bracewell brought the side back by taking the team past 275. New Zealand A were 375 for 9 at one stage when Rance and Blair Tickner stitched an unbeaten stand of 83 for the final wicket to help the team declare at 458 for 9. Rance had his fare share of fun and made 69 off 57 as Gowtham finished with 3 for 107.
Shaw continued his good run, scoring his second half-century of the game, but it was Vijay's stay that'll please the think-tank more. He compiled a patient hand of 60 staking his claim to open in the first Test - while Shaw raced to 50 off 53 before falling. Vihari too composed another aggressive half-century as the visitors walk away from the game satisfied with what they've achieved.
Brief scores: India A 467/8 dec (Parthiv Patel 94; Blair Tickner 4-80) and 247/3 (M Vijay 60) drew withNew Zealand A 458/9 dec (Hamish Rutherford 114*; K Gowtham 3-107).