Captain Gill leads India A from the front

At stumps, the elegant right-hander was unbeaten on 66 (108b, 9x4, 1x6) guiding India A to a strong position on day one of the four-day unofficial Test match.

India A captain Shubman Gill in action at the four-day unofficial Test match against South Africa A in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Shubman Gill couldn’t have had a better day as India A captain. In the morning, he won an important toss and invited South Africa A to bat on a wicket with sufficient grass. The bowlers obliged and dismissed the visitor for 164 runs.

At stumps, the elegant right-hander was unbeaten on 66 (108b, 9x4, 1x6) guiding India A to a strong position on day one of the four-day unofficial Test match at the Sports Hub here.

Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj made the ball zip around and within an hour, half of the South African batting line-up was back in the dressing room. The scoreboard read 22 for five.

In the first over, Siraj prised out skipper Aiden Markram with a perfect delivery, that pitched and seamed away to take the edge, snapped up by 'keeper K.S. Bharat.

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Shardul accounted for Pieter Malan, the other opener, in similar fashion to leave South Africa tottering at zero for two.

Shardul (three for 29) enjoyed the conditions and bowled with aggression and persistence.

Dane Piedt, who scored fluently for his 33 runs before falling to off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham, showed the necessary temperament on the track.

The left handed Marco Jansen, who top-scored with an unbeaten 45, attacked spinners Gowtham and Shahbaz Nadeem to add useful runs with the tail.

Lungi Ngidi and Lutho Sipamla were wayward with the new ball. Openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Gill were presented enough scoring opportunities early in their innings. The duo quickly added 48 runs for the first wicket before Jansen bowled the former through the gate.

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Gill, who survived a chance on 39, added 58 runs for the second wicket with Ricky Bhui. But Ngidi — in his second spell — dismissed Bhui who played on.

Gowtham had injury concerns but he passed the fitness test ahead of the match. Jalaj Saxena, who was a last minute inclusion as cover for the Karnataka spinner, did not have to sit out as Anmolpreet Singh pulled out due to back spasm.

Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who injured his thumb again during practice, didn't play as a precautionary measure.

Brief scores: SA 164 all out (M Jansen 45, D Piedt 33; S Thakur 3/29, S Nadeem 2/37); India A 129/2 (S Gill 66*, R Gaikwad 30; L Ngidi 1/18)