India A won the second four-day Test by six wickets to draw level in the two-Test series against Australia A here on Tuesday. Ankit Bawne (28, 18b, 4x3) and K.S. Bharat (12, 6b, 6x1, 4x1) played useful cameos as India chased down 55 in seven overs.
The host was struggling at one point, having slipped to three for 13 and with the light fading, Australia resorted to time-wasting tactics but Bawne had other plans. His 18-ball 28, peppered with three exciting hits to the fence, was enough to carry India home. Bawne scored the winning runs — a pull over deep midwicket — and threw his hands up in jubilation as India conjured a win from a contest that appeared to be heading for a draw for the most part of the day.
Earlier, it was an all-spin attack from India-A in the first session, with Shahbaz Nadeem (2 for 67), Kuldeep Yadav (3 for 46) and K. Gowtham (3 for 39) bowling 31 of the 34 overs between them. Travis Head (47, 129b, 4x5) and Peter Handscomb (56, 153b, 4x8) brought up their fifty-run partnership off 171 balls, but not before Gowtham had given Head a scare.
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The southpaw was dropped twice off the Karnataka spinner in his innings: on four, Head got a thick outside edge that slipped through the fingers of a leaping Shreyas Iyer in the slips, and on six, when 'keeper Bharat grassed a chance behind the stumps.
Head, who has been among runs throughout the two Tests (206 runs) and will be in line for his maiden baggy green in the two-Test series against Pakistan, showed good application and put away the bad deliveries.
Kuldeep, meanwhile, looked confused with his length and bowled either too full or too short, with Handscomb pulling one between deep mid wicket and the deep square leg for four.
At one point, India had only one man outside the 30-yard circle. It was an invitation to the Australian batsmen to step out of the crease to manufacture shots, but the visitor seemed content with the risk-averse approach.
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Nadeem's hard work paid off when immediately after lunch, Head went back to a delivery he should've been playing forward and the ball hit the bat before brushing the thigh pad en route to R. Samarth at leg-slip. Marnus Labuschagne, also in the squad for the Pakistan Tests, was out for a seven-ball duck when he tried to flick but the ball took the leading edge and landed safely in the hands of Shubman Gill in the cordon.
Handscomb, too, could've been on his way back but for Bharat who paused for the ball to land on the stumps instead of going for a straightforward caught behind chance. The keeper-batsman — not part of the 15-member squad for the subcontinent tour — looked good against spin and struck eight boundaries before falling to Kuldeep to leave Australia reeling at 160/5.
Six runs later, Ashton Agar stepped out to Kuldeep, missed, and was adroitly stumped by Bharat.
Neser and Mitchell Marsh (36, b, 4x5) tried to steady the sinking ship with a 31-run seventh wicket partnership but K. Gowtham bowled Marsh through the gate. Australia A lost its remaining three wickets for just 16 runs.