India-A crumbled in the face of unfavourable conditions and handed Australia-A a 98-run victory in the first unofficial Test, at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday.
At the start of the final day, India-A required 199 runs with eight wickets in hand. The pitch, which kept low and offered spongy bounce, made life tough for the batsmen. Opener Mayank Agarwal (80, 189b, 9x4, 1x6) and Ankeet Bawane (25, 75b, 1x4) showed the gumption to stick around, but their 73-run third-wicket stand was not nearly enough.
Australia-A left-arm spinner Jon Holland broke the home team’s back with six for 81, his sixth five-wicket haul in First Class cricket. For Holland and his mates, it was a matter of bowling stump to stump, and letting the pitch do the rest.
A well-set Bawane was the first to go when his attempted sweep off Holland ricocheted off his pads and onto the stumps. R. Samarth (8) chipped one back to off-spinner Travis Head before K.S. Bharat (0) was found out by a bouncer from pacer Brendan Dogget.
Bharat was in no position to play the hook shot, resulting in a simple catch for Peter Handscomb at leg-gully.
K. Gowtham (0) and Mohammed Siraj (8) both lunged forward to Holland and were trapped on the pads. Kuldeep Yadav’s adventurous, misguided upper-cut was taken well by the wicket-keeper and the rest of the tail did not last long either.
Only Mayank displayed the technique and fight required to survive. The local lad canned his natural aggressive game and adopted a defensive mindset. He played with a straight bat and picked up the singles when he had the top-order for company. When the lower-order came in, Mayank shepherded the strike, and occasionally opened up.
The 27-year-old, who is in the form of his life, was unfortunate to miss a well-deserved century. He came down the wicket and met a Holland delivery on the half-volley, and smacked it straight and hard. Holland stretched his hands above his head and plucked the ball out of the air. The sharp, crucial grab left India-A with no way back.
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