Mumbai: Flavour of the season Rishabh Pant sizzled in his first ever match for India A and his smashing 59 off only 36 balls overshadowed senior pro Ajinkya Rahane’s compact 91 as a new-look India A side cruised to a six-wicket victory over England in the second warm-up game.
Chasing a target of 283, India A knocked off the runs in 39.4 overs. Sheldon Jackson 59 off 56 balls also did his bit adding 119 runs for the opening stand with Rahane. Senior pro Suresh Raina did the finisher’s job with a 45 off 34 balls. However it was Pant, whose performance was awaited and he didn’t disappoint the CCI crowd as he hit eight fours and two huge sixes.
Such was his dominance that his contribution was 59 out of the 78 runs in only 8.4 overs that he added for the second wicket with Rahane. Rahane also showed no signs of rustiness hitting 10 fours and a six in 83 balls. It was Deepak Hooda (23) and Ishan Kishan(5) at the crease.
Earlier, opting to bat first the England innings was nurtured in the main by half centuries from opener Alex Hales (51) and Jonny Bairstow (64) before it got into the mire against the home side’s spin attack. They were finally revived by the last wicket pair of Adil Rashid and David Willey who put on 71 runs.
Strangely Pant, who is a regular opener for Delhi in ODIs and T20s along with IPL was demoted to No 3 but it did not dampen his spirits. The left-handed Pant, who slammed pacer Jake Ball for two fours and a short-arm pulled six in three successive balls, raced to his half century in just 32 balls before impetuosity cost him his wicket.
In trying to cart leggie Adil Rashid, who he had hoisted over long on for his second six off his previous delivery, the upcoming Delhi lad was caught at the same position after adding 78 runs in 8.4 overs overs for the 2nd wicket with Rahane who watched the youngster blast his way from the other end. These first two partnerships that came at a rate above the asking rate and pushed the total very close to the 200 mark were enough to put the home team in sight of overhauling their rivals’ score.
After Rahane’s dismissal when he played on in trying to clip Willey, Raina and Deepak Hooda took the total past the 260-mark when the left-hander was caught in the deep off Ball.
Earlier, choosing to bat first on winning the toss, England sailed along merrily and were 116 for one when they started losing wickets in bunches mainly against the home team spinners to be left struggling at 165 for six three overs past the halfway mark of their allotted quota.
Openers Jason Roy (25) and Alex Hales (51) got the visitors off to another good start of 42 and then the latter and one-down batsman Jonny Bairstow (64) took the score past the 100-mark before the slump began.
In 12 movers, England squandered five wickets – including that of captain Eoin Morgan for a duck, his second successive flop in two games. Only Ben Stokes stood solid among the middle order in making 38 and he and Chris Woakes (16) took the score close to 200 before another in another slide England lost three more wickets before the 40th over with only 211 on the board.
The last wicket partnership of 71 in just under ten overs between Adil Rashid (39) and left handed David Willey, who remained unbeaten on 38 and struck the only two sixes of the entire innings, helped England advance to a competitive score in the end.
In spite of the last wicket pair’s half century stand the England innings ended with seven balls remaining. For the hosts, off-spinner Parvez Rasool was the most successful bowler with figures of 3 for 38 off 10 overs, while left-arm slow bowler Shahbaz Nadeem picked up a brace along with medium pacers Ashok Dinda, who took his wickets in two balls in two separate overs, and left arm Pradeep Sangwan got one.
Sangwan’s wickets included that of Roy who was hit wicket when a part of his helmet fell on the stumps to disturb the bails as we went for a pull shot off a short ball. Siddharth Kaul picked up 1 for 31 while Vinay Kumar ended up without a wicket to his name.