Middle order tons put India A in command
Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara led the way with a composed hundred (137) before Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina cemented India A's commanding position on Day 2 of the 1st unofficial Test against South Africa A at Olympia Park on Sunday.
India A won the toss and chose to bat first, with openers Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan (11) starting against the new ball. Dhawan departed early, caught at first slip off Simon Harmer (1/155) in the 17th over. Thereafter, Murali Vijay played a supporting role as Pujara displayed his well-known temperament and batted comfortably against the South African seamers. Together, they added 66 runs for the 2nd wicket, following which Vijay was dismissed by Andrew Birch (1/100). At this stage, India A were 94/2 in the 38th over.
Rohit Sharma, coming in at No.4, joined his captain in the middle and both batsmen settled in at the crease, steadily adding vital runs to their side’s total. The duo were involved in a patient 176-run stand for the 3rd wicket, which also brought up Pujara’s century in the meanwhile. However, the captain departed to a play-and-miss delivery from Wayne Parnell (3/93) soon after, and India A were 281/3 at the end of day’s play.
Day 2 began with Sharma getting to his hundred, in partnership with Suresh Raina (135), who also notched his century. Both batsmen added 106 runs for the 4th wicket, following which Sharma was caught at short leg off JP Duminy. Raina continued to attack, striking 14 fours and 3 sixes in his innings before being cleaned up by Parnell. Ajinkya Rahane (10) and Wriddhiman Saha (1) returned to the pavilion quickly, but it was Ishwar Pandey (35) who played a cameo, blasting 3 fours and 2 sixes, adding 79 runs for the 7th wicket. Jaydev Unadkat (31*) and Shahbaz Nadeem (46*) contributed with more runs before India A declared on 582/9 in 163 overs.
South Africa A got off to a troubled start, losing the in-form Reeza Hendricks (10) in the 7th over as he was caught behind off Unadkat. At stumps on Day 2, a battered South Africa A were 20/1 in 9 overs.