The pitch is never too green to bowl first in India, they say. But you should have tried telling that to Dane Piedt, the captain of the touring South Africa A side, when both India A openers were razored back to the pavilion inside eight overs at the KSCA Ground in Alur.
Losing Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw, who had scores of 220 and 136 respectively in the first unofficial Test, could have been a telling blow except for Hanuma Vihari’s glorious rearguard, hitting an unbeaten 138 in overcast conditions to not just revive India A but also help the hosts walk with the honours on the opening day.
Agarwal fell fourth ball of the day, edging Duanne Olivier to second slip whereas Shaw, off to a breezy start with two boundaries, fell to Anrich Nortje off an edge to the ‘keeper. Enter Hanuma Vihari, ready to play the waiting game, braving the interruptions in play due to poor light and making hay when the sun shines, literally.
Even as Vihari held one end taut, Shreyas Iyer’s dismissal off Senuran Muthusamy could have offset India A’s small recovery in entirety. But Vihari found an able ally in Ankit Bawne, and together they put on 177 for the fourth wicket, shoving India into ascendancy and flipping the script around.
Srikar Bharat, replacing Bawne at the crease, played freely, accumulating 30 runs before the close of play and together with Vihari holds key to the huge first innings total India A will have set for themselves going into the second day.
Brief Scores: India A 322/4 (Hanuma Vihari 138*, Ankit Bawne 80; Dane Piedt 1-46, Senuran Muthusamy 1-51) vs South Africa A
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