WI A v Ind A – 1st Test, Day 4
Mumbai, June 6: Cheteshwar Pujara scored an unbeaten 96 as India A beat West Indies A by two wickets in a thrilling first-class tie that concluded at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados. Needing 186 to win in the fourth innings, Cheteshwar’s battling knock helped the visitors secure a win despite being reduced to 115 for eight during the run chase.
Earlier, India A resumed from their overnight score of 22 for three with Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan out in the middle. Delorn Johnson, however, put an end to Dhawan’s innings early in the day when he had the latter bowled off a slower delivery. Dhawan did not add to his overnight score of 13. Rohit Sharma, who played a scratchy innings of 23, fell a little while after as India slumped to 68 for five.
Jason Holder then ripped through the Indian middle order to give the hosts the advantage in the contest. Having picked up two wickets late on Day 3, Holder shattered Manoj Tiwary’s (5) stumps just before lunch and then got rid of Wriddhiman Saha (3) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (5) after an elongated lunch break (due to rain) to reduce the visitors to 115 for eight.
Pujara, though, remained undaunted by the constant fall of wickets around him. Having hit three boundaries in five deliveries early in the second session, Pujara hit Delorn Johnson for consecutive fours to take the India A score past the 100-run mark and bring up his second half-century score of the match. The Indian skipper was also hit by a bumper from the 6-foot, 7-inch Holder when on 56, but braved on to guide the Indian quest for victory with No. 10 batsman Shami Ahmed giving him company.
Rain brought an unnecessary halt to proceedings at the Kensington Oval on two more occasions towards the end of the day. But Pujara and Ahmed braved the weather and the visitors' bowling attack as they struck a defiant 73-run stand to take India home with two wickets to spare. Pujara remained not-out on 96 while Ahmed’s unbeaten 27 is his highest first-class score.
The second Test between the two sides will be played at Kingstown between June 9-12.
Brief scores (At end of Day 4):
West Indies A 1st innings 252/10 in 87.3 overs (Veerasammy Rampaul 66, Shami Ahmed 3/43) and West Indies A 2nd innings 210/10 in 78.3 overs (Lendl Simmons 53, Rohit Sharma 4/41) lost to India A 1st innings 277/10 in 81.1 overs (Rohit Sharma 94, Jonathan Carter 5/63) and India A 2nd innings 188/8 in 74.3 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 96*, Shami Ahmed 27*, Jason Holder 5/55) by two wickets
Man-of-the-match: Cheteshwar Pujara for his match-winning fourth innings knock of 96* (323 minutes, 222 balls, 10x4)