BENGALURU, Sept 10(PTI): India-A turned the screws and put itself in prime position to force a result going into the final day of the second unofficial ‘Test’ at the Alur ground near here.
If K.S. Bharat’s fine century (106, 186b, 12×4, 1×6) on day three helped his side take a 159-run lead, the loss of both Australian openers in the final hour of play shifted the momentum decisively in the hosts’ favour.
Kurtis Patterson was bowled shouldering arms to offie K. Gowtham, while Matt Renshaw was caught by a diving Deepak Chahar at short fine-leg off Shahbaz Nadeem.
Against a spin-heavy attack on a crumbling pitch, the Aussies will have their task cut out.
In the morning, under-19 star Shubman Gill (50, 74b, 7×4) led India’s confident start from an overnight 223 for three with a fine array of strokes.
The day, however, belonged to Bharat. Coming in at the fall of skipper Shreyas Iyer (42, 75b, 4×4, 1×6), he was tentative to begin with. Once he survived the opening phase, he indulged in some fine shot-making.
The visiting pacemen, as they have done all through this tour, bowled a series of short balls.
Only that, unlike in the first game, Bharat was up to the challenge. The way he handled Brendan Doggett demonstrated this in good measure.
His stand-out shots early on were two pulls — one for four and the other for a six — to usher in lunch.
In the afternoon session, he hit three boundaries in a single Doggett over.
The first was an edge to the third-man fence, the second a caress past point to get to his half-century before lofting the very next delivery over mid-off for another four. The over ended with a hit in the gut, but by then there was little doubt as to who had won the battle.
Kuldeep Yadav, meanwhile, put on an excellent display of his secondary skill, coming up with a 112-ball 52. His 113-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Bharat ensured that India will have a more than decent chance to draw level in the series.
The scores: Australia-A — 1st innings: 346.
India-A — 1st innings: R. Samarth lbw b Agar 83, Abhimanyu Easwaran run out 86, Shreyas Iyer b Marsh 42, Ankeet Bawane c Renshaw b Swepson 13, Shubman Gill b Tremain 50, K.S. Bharat b Agar 106, K. Gowtham c & b Doggett 20, Deepak Chahar lbw b Agar 6, Kuldeep Yadav c Handscomb b Tremain 52, Shahbaz Nadeem b Tremain 0, Rajneesh Gurbani (not out) 16; Extras (b-9, lb-8, w-4, nb-10): 31; Total (in 144 overs): 505.
Fall of wickets: 1-174, 2-176, 3-217, 4-259, 5-300, 6-341, 7-370, 8-483, 9-483.
Australia-A bowling: Tremain 17-2-41-3, Doggett 15-1-101-1, Agar 45-13-87-3, Neser 13-0-42-0, Swepson 28-0-121-1, Marsh 13-0-50-1, Head 7-0-32-0, Labuschagne 6-1-14-0.
Australia-A — 2nd innings: Kurtis Patterson b Gowtham 4, Matt Renshaw C Chahar b Nadeem 19, Travis Head (batting) 4, Peter Handscomb (batting) 1; Extras (b-8, lb-1, nb-1): 10; Total (for two wkts in 14 overs): 38.
Fall of wickets: 1-27, 2-37.
India-A bowling: Chahar 3-0-5-0, Nadeem 7-2-21-1, Gowtham 4-1-3-1.