Barbados: Cheteshwar Pujara, the India A captain, led from the front with an unbeaten 96 to take his team to a two-wicket win over West Indies A in the first four-day game between the two teams at Kensington Oval.
Pujara came in to bat early on the last day after Shikhar Dhawan, unbeaten on 13 overnight, fell without adding to his score. He got little support from his teammates, and held the innings together amid poor light and showers, which forced three stoppages in play through the day, to take India A past the mark.
The other big star of the day was Jason Holder, the six-foot-seven-inch fast bowler from Barbados, who bowled 27 overs in the innings, returning figures of five for 55. Pujara was the only one who got his measure, despite being hit on the hands twice on the third evening.
Overall he batted 323 minutes, faced 222 balls and hit 10 boundaries – the last off Jonathan Carter, the medium pacer, that brought up the winning runs.
Pujara had made a half-century in the first innings as well, and seemed to be fighting for a lost cause when he found a willing ally in number ten Shami Ahmed, the medium pacer. Ahmed batted for over two hours in Pujara’s company, scoring an unbeaten 27 in a 73-run stand for the ninth wicket.
The pair came together after Rohit Sharma (23), Manoj Tiwary (5), Wriddhiman Saha (3) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (5) had fallen to leave India tottering at 115 for eight.
The second four-day game starts at the Arnos Vale ground in St Vincent on Saturday.
West Indies A 252 & 210 lost to India A 277 & 188/8 (Cheteshwar Pujara 96*, Shami Ahmed 27*; Jason Holder 5/55, Delorn Johnson 2/62) by 8 wickets