K.L. Rahul finds form in India A's strong reply

K.L. Rahul bounced back to form with an unbeaten 88 as India A ended second day's play with a strong reply.

K.L. Rahul remained unbeaten on 88 at the end of second day's play (File photo).   -  K.R. Deepak

Determination was writ large in K.L. Rahul’s batting on Friday.

The elegant opener, who has been struggling for form, made an unbeaten 88 (182b, 11x4) for India A in the first unofficial Test against England Lions at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium.

The spotlight may have been largely on him, but his partner Priyank Panchal (89 batting, 141b, 16x4) too batted impressively on day two of the four-day match. Both have so far added an unbeaten 117 for the second wicket, to take the host to 219 for two at stumps in reply to the Lions’ first innings total of 340.

With more batting still to come in the form of captain Ankeet Bawane, Ricky Bhui, Jalaj Saxena and K.S. Bharat - Rahul Dravid’s team looks in control.

Read: One of my best spells, says Navdeep Saini

Rahul started his innings very cautiously and understandably so. He was perfectly content to play out the new ball from an English attack that wasn’t going to be particularly menacing on a slow surface. It took him 12 balls to get off the mark and another 17 more to score his first boundary.

His opening partner Abhimanyu Easwaran (31) was more keen to play strokes and was looking good before getting yorked out by Zak Chappell, that was right after a confident lbw shout from the same bowler.

Once Rahul shifted gears and produced some elegant off drives and back-foot punches, much to the delight of a small, but enthusiastic crowd. Panchal, the opener who has been a consistent scorer for Gujarat for about a decade, also played some delightful strokes to show his class.

The day was a memorable one for another Indian as well – Navdeep Saini, whose fine spell of seam bowling ensured the Lions didn’t run away with the game. He took five for 77 - varying his pace nicely and bowling a steady line.

It was his spell of 7.3-2-22-3 that broke the back of the visiting side’s middle order. The Lions had started the day at 303 for five with two set batsmen at the wicket. Steven Mullaney (42) and Will Jacks (63, 114b, 10x4) didn't last long before the visiting side being bowled out by an improved Indian attack. 

The scores:

England Lions: 1st Innings: Max Holden c Bharat b Saini 26, Ben Duckett b Shardul 80, Sam Hain c Bharat b Saxena 61, Ollie Pop b Avesh 8, Sam Billings c Bharat b Saini 9, Steven Mullaney b Saini 42, Will Jacks lbw b Shahbaz 63, Lewis Gregory b Shardul 3, Danny Briggs lbw b Saini 6, James Porter (not out) 1, Extras (b-12, lb-21, nb-4, w-3) 40; Total (in 104.3 overs): 340.

Fall of wickets: 1-82, 2-130, 3-162, 4-201, 5-238, 6-310, 7-321, 8-322, 9-338.

India A bowling: Shardul 24-1-77-1, Saini 23.3-5-79-5, Avesh 12-3-35-1, Saxena 17-3-49-1, Shahbaz 26-6-59-1, Panchal 2-0-8-0.

India A: K.L. Rahul (batting) 88, Abhimanyu Easwaran b Chappell 31, Priyank Panchal (batting) 89, Extras (b-8, lb-3) 11; Total (for one wkt. in 67 overs): 219.

Fall of wickets: 1-48

England Lions bowling: Porter 14-3-44-0, Gregory 16-5-41-0, Mullaney 10-130-0, Chappell 10-2-28-1, Briggs 15-2-48-0, Jacks 20-17-0.