Cheteshwar Pujara delivers thrilling win for India A
Cheteshwar Pujara’s captain’s innings of 96* in a tense chase saw him lead India A to a 2 wicket win against West Indies A on Day 4 of the first unofficial Test at Barbados on Tuesday.
India A were in deep trouble at 22/3 overnight with a target of 186 to be chased. Opener Shikhar Dhawan (13*) and skipper Pujara (0*) were the two batsmen who resumed batting on Tuesday morning with another 164 runs needed.
Only two more runs had been added when pacer Delorn Johnson sent back Dhawan with India A reeling on 24/4. Pujara and Rohit Sharma (23) added 44 runs in a nervous partnership for the 5th wicket. Sharma survived a drop when on two and had two uncertain shots going just past/falling just short of fielders. He then struck a six and four but was dismissed before he could add to the damage, nicking a wide delivery to the keeper leaving the score at 68/5. Manoj Tiwary (5) was soon dismissed and India A went to lunch with only Pujara (26*) left among the specialist batsmen with wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha for company.
After a 45 minute lunch break due to rain interruptions, Pujara immediately accelerated. Saha (3) fell cheaply at the other end, adding the pressure on Pujara and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s dismissal with the score 115/8, 61 runs to get left the team in dire straits.
Pujara was also hit on the hand by a bouncer from Jason Holder (5/55) but a rain break gave him time to recover from the blow as Tea was taken early.
No. 10 batsman Shami Ahmed provided defiant support for Pujara, hitting a six off Holder when play resumed. Pujara farmed strike expertly there onwards to knock off the remaining runs. Rain interrupted play again twice and the Windies A bowlers were relentless as well but Ahmed kept them at bay long enough for Pujara to finish the game.
The win came with a boundary from Cheteshwar Pujara off Carter, India A reaching 188/8 on the back off an incredible 96* from Pujara, 27* from Ahmed and an unbeaten 9th wicket partnership for 73 runs.
The two sides will play a second Test at the Arnos Vale Ground in Kingstown, St. Vincent on June 9th.
West Indies A 252 (Permaul 66, Ahmed 3-43)
India A 277 (Rohit Sharma 94, Saha 56, Pujara 50, Carter 5-63)
West Indies A 210 (Simmons 53, Rohit Sharma 4-41)
India A (Target 186) 188 for 8 (Pujara 96*, Holder 5-55)