1st Unofficial Test: Match evenly poised with one day to play

After batting well to set a challenging target of 262, Australia-A pinned India-A to 63 for two at the close of play.

Ankit Bawane in action during the Test Series match between India -A and Australia-A at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  Sudhakara Jain

A fighting performance by Australia-A set up an interesting finale to the first unofficial Test against India-A, at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here.

After batting well to set a challenging target of 262, Australia-A pinned India-A to 63 for two at the close of play.

Fast bowler Chris Tremain dismissed opener A. Easwaran for a duck in the third over, before skipper Shreyas Iyer committed harakiri a short while later. Batting on 28, Shreyas charged at left-arm spinner Jon Holland and skied his shot to Kurtis Patterson at long-off. On a slow, low pitch, his cavalier approach was fraught with danger.

Mayank Agarwal (25 batting) and Ankeet Bawane (6 batting) wisely tread a  cautious path to avoid further damage.

Resuming on 42 for one, Australia-A did well to reach 292. Travis Head (87, 162b, 13x4) was in fine touch, as was his partner Usman Khawaja (40, 89b).

Pacer Mohammed Siraj, who picked up eight wickets in the first essay, broke their 81-run second-wicket partnership with a beauty. A quick, reversing delivery squared Khawaja up and hit the off-stump.

For the second time in this encounter, Peter Handscomb and captain Mitchell Marsh did not make an impression. While Handscomb (8) was taken at slip, Marsh was run-out by a sharp piece of fielding by Shreyas at cover.

Head held the key, as he guided Australia-A past the 150-run mark. Off-spinner K. Gowtham picked up the crucial wicket with a flat, quicker delivery, which whizzed past Head’s outside edge and crashed into the stumps.

Marnus Labuschagne (37), Michael Neser (25) and Chris Tremain (25) all chipped in to add crucial runs to the Australia-A total. Siraj took three wickets to finish with a match-haul of 11 for 136.

Tremain stated that the match is on a knife-edge. “I’d say it is 50-50 right now. This is not a wicket where runs come easy. If we manage to get wickets in a cluster, it will be tough for the India-A batsmen,” Tremain said.