India A vs West Indies A, highlights: All eyes on Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag as visitors 268 all out
The hosts need a win to level the three-match series but the final encounter will be an even more pivotel prospect for two veterans trying to make a comeback to the national fold - Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
The West Indies A team has been comprehensive, methodical and focussed against hosts India A. Having won the first and drawn the second, the visitors now pose a strong threat in the final match as the Indians look to salvage some pride and go for a win. Highlights, as they happened:
It's stumps on Day 1 and India A are 10 for no loss after 5 overs, trailing West Indies A (268) by 258 runs.
# Kerala opener VA Jagadeesh once again partners Gautam Gambhir. Again Sehwag will bat in the middle order. India A 5/0 after 3 overs.
# The visitors are bowled out for 268 in 77.4 overs. Abhishek Nayar removes Delorn Johnson and Miguel Cummins off successive balls. All eyes on Gambhir, Sehwag and Pujara now.
# Bhargav Bhatt has struck for the first time in the day. The left-arm spinner removes Ashley Nurse for 4 as West Indies A are 265 for 8 after 77 overs.
# Fudadin falls for 47 to Kulkarni. West Indies A 7 down for 252 and in danger of not surviving the day.
# Jahmar Hamilton is bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni for 15 and West Indies A are 243/6.
# Middle-order now exposed:The fifth wicket falls for West Indies A as Ishwar Pandey is rewarded for his perseverance. The 24-year-old finds the edge of Jonathan Carter's bat (17) and it's Kaul once again who contributes behind the stumps. (WI A: 199/5, 58 overs)
WICKET! Second one for Abhishek Nayar! Right after tea, this time it's the big one with dangerous looking Leon Johnson (81) gone, leg-before-wicket to the medium pace of the Mumbai bowler. West Indies A are 175/4 in 52 overs with Assad Fudadin and Jonathan Carter at the crease.
# Abhishek Nayar strikes. The bowler manages to dislodge Deonarine who was giving good company to Johnson before getting himself stumped. He scored 35 as West Indies A are now 133/3.
# The 26-year-old Johnson, from Guyana, has some experience in ODIs having played three and managing a fifty (51) in one of them. In first-class cricket, he averages a little over 29 from 44 matches with a best score of 144.
# Half-century: Johnson completes a very patient, extremely watchful fifty against India A. The batsman came to the middle after an early setback but has since anchored his end of the pitch well, even managing to find the boundary ropes on nine occasions. The Indians meanwhile have used Nayyar's spin as well as the slow left-arm orthodox skills of Bhargav Bhatt. (WI A: 119/2, 38 overs)
# Back to the match and West Indies A have reached the three-figure mark, largely thanks to the continuing contribution from Johnson who is approaching his fifty. (WI: 101/2, 34 overs) And here (on the right) is how the tourists geared up today for the match:
# Quick weather update: Hubli has partially cloudy skies with the possibility of light showers throughout the week. The mercury is likely to read between 21 and 29 making for an otherwise pleasant cricketing conditions.
# End of 1st session: West Indies A go into lunch at 78/2 ( 25 overs) with Johnson anchoring the innings. He is unbeaten on 34 off 58 with six boundaries to his name. He has Deonarine (10 off 18) for company. (Recap read: Deonarine's interview on what he can learn in India). For the hosts, Zaheer and Kulkarni have claimed a wicket each while two other bowlers - Pandey and Nayar - have also been used.
# Second blow! Kulkarni gets a breakthrough for India A. The bowler beats the defenses of a well-set Kieran Powell (21 off 55) to strike the second blow to the visitors. Johnson at the other end has been joined by Narsingh Deonarine. (WI: 53/2; 18.3)
# Kieran Powell and Leon Johnson have steadied the ship for their team after the early wicket of Brathwaite. Both batsmen have done reasonably well in keeping the Indian bowlers - Zaheer, Ishawar Pandey and Dhawal Kulkarni - at bay so far with their patient stance. (WI A: 36/1; 16 overs)
# Early strike! Zaheer delivers a quick blow to West Indies A as he sends Kraigg Brathwaite (1) packing in the seventh over of the day. Uday Kaul behind the stumps makes no mistakes as he neatly pockets the edge. (WI A: 8/1)
# Sehwag and Gambhir may have found the going tough but for another time-tested campaigner, things have been looking up.
Zaheer was rather effective at Shimoga earlier where, on a pitch that was on the slower side, he claimed a wicket. While his second spell there may have had as many as four no-balls, the seamer showed that he is still capable of bowling in the right areas. Here in Hubli, he may get some assistance from the track which can only auger well for him. (Recap read: Slimline Zaheer on Mission Redemption)
# Toss: India A skipper Pujara calls it right and opts to field against West Indies A.
# Eyes here are firmly placed on two players in particular - Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. The two veterans of Indian cricket have been rather pale in their performances against West Indies A, so far. While Zaheer Khan - making his comeback after a grueling training session in France and South Africa - has been decent, the two Delhi batsman have left their fans waiting for that splendid knock. (Read full preview here)
# Teams (from):
India A: Cheteshwar Pujara (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sheldon Jackson, Abhishek Nayar, Paras Dogra, Uday Kaul (wk), Mohammad Kaif, Parveez Rasool, Bhargav Bhatt, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer Khan, Ishwar Pandey, Mohammad Shami.
West Indies A: Kirk Edwards (c), Kieran Powell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Sheldon Cottrell, Miguel Cummins, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin, Jahmar Hamilton, Delorn Johnson, Leon Johnson, Nikita Miller, Veerasammy Permaul, Shane Shillingford, Chadwick Walton
# West Indies A team has been forceful in their ways with skipper Kirk Edwards marshaling his men well. The likes of Braithwaite, Deonaraine and Miller have been decent on the field and even Kieran Powell looks hungry to strike form despite ordinary knocks recently.
# The final contest in the 'unofficial' Test series starts today as India A and West Indies A lock horns in Hubli, Karnataka. The hosts have not been their best despite the presence of veterans in the side. Skipper Cheteshwar Puajara now has an uphill task of motivating the side and aiming to win to draw level.