A brilliant, unbeaten 187 from Ruturaj Gaikwad powered India ‘A’ to an emphatic victory over Sri Lanka ‘A’ in the first one-day match here on Thursday.
The Maharashtra batsman relied on timing and deftness of touch to take the touring bowlers apart, his 136-ball knock steering India ‘A’ to a mammoth 317 for four in 42 overs. In reply, the Sri Lankans fell 48 runs short, Shehan Jayasuriya's century going in vain.
The home side never truly allowed the run chase to assume threatening proportions. The new ball pair of Tushar Deshpande and Sandeep Warrier accounted for Sri Lanka’s openers, Niroshan Dickwella sparkling briefly before spooning a catch to mid-wicket.
Jayasuriya dropped anchor, but India’s bowlers chipped away at the other end, removing Ashan Priyanjan and Bhanuka Rajapaksa just when there was the whiff of a good partnership.
All-rounder Dasun Shanaka launched a late assault, clobbering a 31-ball-44 as he and Jayasuriya added 92 runs (69b) in quick time for the sixth wicket. But the asking rate, 16 at that stage, was always going to be too steep.
Earlier, overnight rain delayed the start of proceedings by an hour and a half, reducing the fixture to a 42-overs-a-side affair. Shubman Gill fell early, but Gaikwad was simply unstoppable. The 22-year-old played some delightful short-arm pulls and back-foot punches, judging the length in a flash. He raised his fourth List A hundred, off 94 balls, with a firm pull through mid-wicket. Getting to three figures only emboldened Gaikwad, who not long after went down on one knee to thrash Lahiru Kumara over long-on for six: it was arguably the shot of the match.
In all, he struck 26 fours and two sixes in the course of his three-hour effort. “These days, a hundred is not enough in one-day cricket; batsmen are targeting double hundreds. So I didn’t want to stop after reaching three figures,” Gaikwad said after notching up a career-best List A score.
The Pune man may not have played any top-level cricket since the end of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in March, having warmed the bench for CSK in the IPL, but he was not short of match practice, he revealed. “I competed in a local tournament in Pune called the Manake Trophy, where the first innings is limited to 40 overs and the second to 20,” said Gaikwad. “I scored four hundreds there. It gave me confidence.”
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