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Will work on my bowling: Ballance

England’s No. 3 batsman is ready to explore his leg-spin a bit more in Tests

The Trent Bridge Test was destined to end in a dull draw and Alastair Cook didn’t want to further tire his frontline pacers out. So he came on to bowl himself and then lobbed the ball to his No. 3 batsman, Gary Ballance. All who saw that over agreed it was the best over of spin bowling from England in that match, with all due respect to Moeen Ali.

“I was pretty nervous, I wasn’t expecting to be called to bowl,” Ballance said of his first Test over. “I was glad the first one landed and that gave me a little more confidence. It’s tough as a part-time spinner. I never really got an opportunity to bowl in a game before that.

With England struggling to find a world-class spinner, and the pitches being on the slower side, Ballance feels it won’t be a bad idea for him to start practicing his leg-spinners in the nets.

“I’ll practice my bowling a bit more in the nets and we’ll see how it goes from there,” he said. “The captains will want that extra bowling option and being a wrist spinner, there might be an opportunity for me to come on to bowl on a flat wicket when the game is going nowhere.”

However, he rightly added that majority of his focus will remain on his batting. “I will work a bit harder on the bowling but right now it’s the time to concentrate on batting and get some good scores.”

Ballance is one of England’s in-form batsmen with scores of 104*, 74 and 71 in his last three Test innings. With the likes of Cook and Ian Bell not in the best of tough, he knows he will have to shoulder more batting responsibility at the crucial No. 3 position.

“Being a No. 3 you try and bat for a very long time and on the pitches that are quite slow, if the bowlers hold a tight line and bowl full, it gets tough to score. So, you’ve got to be patient and I am happy to play like that. I like batting for time.”

However, the four-Test old batsman is not worried about the lack of runs from the senior pros. “I don’t think we’re making up for anyone. It’s Test cricket and that’s how it goes. It’s nice that some of us younger guys have done well and let’s hope that in the coming games we put in a good team batting performance.”

With the pitches being on the slower side in the recent Tests in England, the captains will prefer going in with five bowlers, which will increase the onus on the shoulders of the batsmen.

“With the pitches being slow, there is a need to play that extra bowler. When you’re bowling so many overs, you need more bowlers – we struggled with three seamers at Trent Bridge. It might put a bit of pressure on the batsmen but that’s our job” Ballance said.

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Report: Aus A vs Ind A – Day 3

Centurion Ojha, Yadav’s 90 take India to 501

Naman Ojha’s third successive century and Umesh Yadav’s quick-fire 66-ball 90, helped India A to a mammoth 501 in reply to Australia A’s first innings score of 423. At the end of day 3, Australia A were trailing by 78 runs as play was called off due to bad light after bowling just one delivery in Australia A’s second essay. Phillip Hughes and Alex Doolan will resume the innings for the home team on day 4.

Earlier, resuming on the overnight total of 165/3, Baba Aparajith and Manoj Tiwary added 17 runs to the total until the former was sent back. Taking the aerial route, Aparajith handed a catch to James Faulkner at mid-off. Chadd Sayers who had claimed the India A top-order in the previous day provided his team with two more in the morning. Eight overs later he also claimed Tiwary’s wicket to leave the tourists on 199 for five.

With the captain walking back for 63, Naman Ojha joined Ambati Rayudu in the middle. Ojha, who had piled on runs for India in the previous game, drove Sayers to the fence to get off the mark with a boundary. Nathan Lyon was given some severe treatment by Ojha as he slammed the off-spinner for a six over mid-wicket, following it up with a boundary in the same area. Scoring at over five and a half runs per over, the Rayudu-Ojha pair added 69 runs for the sixth wicket until Mitchell Marsh struck. Amit Mishra then joined Ojha and the duo helped India A close in on the deficit as India A walked back for lunch at 276 for six.

Ojha, who had remained unbeaten in both innings in the previous match with a double-century and a hundred, seemed to be carrying forward from where he had left. While inching towards the hosts’ total, he hit Lyon for two boundaries and a six to collect 14 from one over. However, the blossoming stand between Ojha and Mishra came to end with Mishra falling to Ben Cutting. Ojha then found an ally in Anureet Singh. Ojha was as severe as he was with Lyon to Cameron Boyce as he belted the leg-spinner for 14 runs before tea. In the process, Ojha notched up yet another century and India A had posted 388/7 in the second session.

Ojha’s innings was finally put to a halt by Ben Cutting as he was caught at mid-on by Sayers for 110. A few overs later, Anureet Singh followed suit and the visitors were 419/9 with Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav at the crease. India A just needed four more runs to level the scores and Umesh Yadav began to score runs with relative ease as he built on the lead. Bumrah held one end up scoring a patient 16, as Yadav played the aggressor’s role scoring at will. The No.10 batsman’s blitzkrieg helped India A gain a 78-run lead until Cutting returned to bring the curtains down on the India A innings.

Brief scores:

Day 1:
Aus A 1st inn 288/7 in 90 overs (J Faulkner 94, P Forrest 77, A Mishra 4/114, U Yadav 3/42)

Day 2: Aus A 1st inn 423 all out in 122.4 overs (B Cutting 96, C Boyce 57, U Yadav 5/83); India 1st inn 165/3 in 55 overs (L Rahul 52, M Tiwary 50*, B Aparajith 20*, C Sayers 3/22)

Day 3: India 1st inn 501 all out in 132.2 overs (N Ojha 110, U Yadav 90, C Sayers 5/84, B Cutting 4/100); Aus A 1st inn 0/0 in 0.1 overs (P Hughes 0*, A Doolan 0*)