Shahbaz Nadeem pitched the ball around leg-stump. It bounced awkwardly and spun away sharply as wicket-keeper batsman Ollie Pope fended a catch behind to K.S. Bharat.
That was the highlight of the final day's play in the first ‘Test’ between India-A and England Lions, which ended in a tame draw at the Wayanad cricket stadium on Sunday.
The left-arm spin of Shahbaz and the off-spin of Jalaj Saxena had begun to trouble the English batsmen but it was a case of too little too late. The Lions, who started the second innings 200 behind, were 214 for five at stumps.
The draw was hardly surprising though, given the flatness of the track. In four days, just 21 wickets fell.
Last month at the same venue, 30 wickets had tumbled in four sessions in the Ranji Trophy semifinal between Kerala and Vidarbha. But the wicket for that game was green and the conditions were far colder.
Sunday was mostly warm, but there were spells of rain and a stoppage of 10 minutes because of bad light. Still, 78 overs were bowled.
Pope, Hain dig in
Resuming on the overnight score of 20 for no loss, the Lions openers, Ben Duckett and Max Holden, negotiated the Indian seamers comfortably.
The duo added 63 for the first wicket before Duckett was caught by K.L Rahul in the slips off Avesh Khan’s first ball of the morning.
Holden was later caught at silly point by Abhimanyu Easwaran off Jalaj Saxena. The batsman, however, was not convinced if he had edged it.
Pope (63, 122b, 10x4) and Sam Hain (57, 178b, 7x4). then stitched together a 105-run third-wicket partnership to thwart the host side's hopes of making further inroads.
Nadeem broke the partnership at the stroke of tea before accounting for skipper Sam Billings. Hain’s batting — he showed great application to score two fifties — was one of the positives for the Lions.
The second and final ‘Test’ stars in Mysuru on February 13.
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