India A rides on Shubman Gill, Karun Nair fifties

While Shubman Gill narrowly missed out on a century, Karun Nair continued to impress to put India A in a position of strength on Day one of the first unofficial Test against South Africa A.

Shubman Gill narrowly missed out on a hundred against South Africa A.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Fluent knocks from Shubman Gill (92, 137b, 12x4, 1x6) and Karun Nair (78 batting, 167b, 10x4) took India-A to 233 for three on the first day of its second unofficial Test against South Africa A at SDNR Wadiyar Stadium here on Tuesday.

The duo came together with India-A in a spot of bother at 31 for two, and put on 135 runs to steer their side to safety.

They patiently played out opening bowlers Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi, both of whom extracted movement in the morning session. When the sun came out and the pitch dried up, Gill and Nair opened up.

Gill, who has been included in the Test squad to face South Africa, was in fine touch. He was particularly strong on the front foot, driving the fast bowlers straight down the ground with aplomb.

One stroke off Philander stood out for its audacity – the youngster simply flicking his wrist to dispatch an overpitched delivery from outside off to the long-on fence.

He was on course to reach a fifth First Class century, until a half-hearted cut went straight to gully. Gill received a reprieve on nought, when he edged Philander between third slip and gully.

Gill, who made 90 in the previous match, is looking forward to joining the Test side. “I’m very excited. Being picked for the Test team is a big deal for every cricketer,” he said.

Nair, meanwhile, built on the great form he showed in the Duleep Trophy. He was aggressive after Lunch, hitting speedster Lutho Sipamla for three boundaries in an over.

When the spinners Dane Piedt and Senuran Muthusamy came on, Nair disrupted their rhythm by using the sweep shot regularly.

Wriddhiman Saha, who like Gill is part of the Test squad, gave Nair company and remained unbeaten on 36.

Abhimanyu Easwaran (5) and Priyank Panchal (6) failed to get going. While Easwaran received a questionable leg-before decision, Panchal nicked an outswinger from fast bowler Wiaan Mulder to first slip.

Brief scores

India A 233/3 in 74 overs (Shubman Gill 92, Karun Nair 78 n o, Wriddhiman Saha 36 n o, Ngidi 1/41) vs South Africa A (Yet to Bat)