Bowlers, Pant help India A clinch tri-series

A disciplined performance from the bowlers followed by an unbeaten half-century by Rishabh Pant helped India A defeat England Lions by five wickets in the final of the tri-series at The Oval on Monday (July 3). Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed and Shardul Thakur picked up eight wickets between them to restrict the hosts to a total of 264 for 9, despite Sam Hain (108) registering his third ton of the series. A collective effort from the India batsmen helped overhaul England’s total, with Pant’s unbeaten 64 off 62 being the stand-out effort.

A 39-run stand between Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal helped India off to a good start in the chase before Matthew Fisher provided the breakthrough by accounting for the centurion of the previous game. Shubman Gill, entering this game on the back of two successive half-centuries, started with a flurry of boundaries and assisted the in-form Agarwal in guiding India forward.

However, the introduction of Liam Dawson helped England pull things back as he struck in his second over to remove Gill and followed it up with the wicket of Agarwal in his next over to leave India in a spot at 83 for 3.

Skipper Shreyas Iyer, whose three innings before this game were single-digit outings, had the opportunity to make amends by coming up with a crucial contribution in the all-important summit clash. He went about doing just that and had for company Hanuma Vihari, who had registered fifty-plus scores in the last two matches – including a knock of 147 against Windies A in the previous game. The fourth wicket partnership helped India get back on track as they added 67 to take the total to 150 in the 27th over.

The see-saw nature of the game continued as skipper Steven Mullaney removed his opposite number to lift the home team’s hopes. While Vihari and Pant revived the chase, their stand came to an abrupt end when the former was run out for 37 to leave India with an equation of 61 in the last 10 overs. Pant, though, didn’t let the situation get the better of him as he employed a positive approach, with Krunal Pandya complementing well, as their unbeaten 71-run association helped India over the line in the penultimate over.

Earlier, opting to bowl, India’s pace trio of Chahar, Thakur and Khaleel did a good job at the start as they kept the run flow in check by sending back the openers inside the first nine overs. Hain and Livingstone led the recovery with a strong partnership characterised by strike rotation with a good measure of boundaries thrown in.

Livingstone played a more aggressive role in the third wicket stand, taking the aerial route without any inhibitions as he managed five sixes during his 82-ball stay. Pandya, who was struck for three sixes – two by Livingstone and one by Hain, managed to send back the former to end the big partnership which had taken England closer to the 200-run mark.

Having breached through, India struck regularly in the death overs to prevent England from teeing off. While Hain extended his stupendous form in the series with yet another three-figure score, he wasn’t around for the finishing stages of the innings as England were deprived of big overs and could only manage 47 in the last 10.

Brief scores: England Lions 264/9 in 50 overs (Sam Hain 108, Liam Livingstone 83; Khaleel Ahmed 3-48, Deepak Chahar 3-58) lost to India A 267/5 in 48.2 overs (Rishabh Pant 64*, Shreyas Iyer 44, Mayank Agarwal 40; Liam Dawson 2-37) by 5 wickets.

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