India 'A' v Australia: Shreyas leads India 'A' reply

Shreyas Iyer smashed five sixes and seven fours to remain unconquered on 85 as India 'A' ended the day at 176/4 in 51 overs in reply to Australia's 469/7.

Shreyas Iyer attacked the Australian bowlers with a 93-ball 85. He's set to score his ninth first-class ton on the final day's play.   -  PTI

Shreyas Iyer gave the Australian bowlers the first hint of what lies in store for them over the coming six weeks. The Mumbai batsman's unbeaten knock of 85 kept India 'A' in the hunt after the visiting team declared its first innings at 469 for seven.

Riding on Iyer's attacking innings, India 'A' finished the second of the three-day game at 176 for four. With Rishabh Pant for company and Ishan Kishan yet to bat, India 'A' batters can hope to run the Australians close on Sunday.

Despite Iyer's belligerence, the Australian bowlers, sans frontline pacers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood who have been rested, must take heart by their performances. On a batting paradise, pacers Jackson Bird and Mitchell Marsh put the openers in check. And even after being clobbered by Iyer, spinners Nathan Lyon and Stephen O'Keefe stuck to fuller lines, thus depriving the batsmen of freebies.

Lyon, especially, struck the right balance of bowling fuller lines without offering too much loop. It resulted in him extracting appreciable bounce, which was instrumental in the dismissals of both the India 'A' openers. While left-hander Akhil Herwadkar top-edged one straight to the off-spinner, Lyon got one to rise sharply on Priyank Panchal in the last over before tea; the right-hander could only offer Peter Handscomb a dolly at forward short-leg.

Iyer, meanwhile, was playing the spinners really well. He made his intentions clear by tonking the first ball he faced off Lyon over wide long on. He struck two more sixes off Australia's lead spinner. Iyer also had little difficulty in disposing O'Keefe over the fence against he turn, over mid-wicket and long on. He also used the depth of the crease really well, as was displayed in his delicate touches behind the wicket on the off-side off both the spinners.

Earlier in the morning, the lower middle-order of Australia continued to bat without trouble against the India 'A' bowlers. Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade batted with caution against the pacers, especially against Navdeep Saini, who continued to impress with nippy bowling. Once the spinners came on, Wade started employing sweep shots at will, while Marsh opened up his shoulders.

The sweep shot eventually turned out to ruinous for Wade as he top-edged Herwadkar, who had to continue shouldering the responsibility of an off-spinner with K. Gowtham unable to bowl, to offer Rishabh Pant an easy catch before lunch. Pant had taken over the gloves from Ishan Kishan halfway into the opening session.

After the break, Marsh started playing more aggressively, hitting a huge six off Shahbaz Nadeeem. Soon after Marsh holed out to substitute B. Indrajith at mid-off Australia declared its innings.

Brief score:

India 176 for four in 51 overs (Shreyas Iyer 85 not out; Jackson Bird two for 15) in reply to Australia's 469 for seven (declared) in 127 overs (Steve Smith 107; Navdeep Saini two for 42)