Rishabh Pant stars as India A pull off superb comeback to beat West Indies A
India A 192 (Bawne 43, Nair 42, Reifer 5-50) and 321 for 5 (Vihari 68, Pant 67*. Nair 55) beat West Indies A 302 (Brooks 122, Siraj 4-68) and 210 (Blackwood 67, Campbell 61, Siraj 4-64) by five wickets
Rishabh Pant‘s counter-attacking unbeaten 71-ball 67 helped India A complete a stirring come-from-behind win in the second four-day Test against West Indies A in Taunton. They chased down 321 with five wickets in hand to clinch the series 1-0.
While Pant saw the chase through, the foundation was laid courtesy half-centuries from Hanuma Vihari (68) and captain Karun Nair (55) on Thursday. This allowed India A, who resumed the fourth day needing 107 to win, rally around despite losing two wickets inside the first five overs of play. Jayant Yadav, the offspinner, made 23 not out in an unbroken 100-run sixth-wicket stand with Pant to seal the win.
Two days into the contest though, India A were well behind. They were bowled out for 192 in the first innings, with left-arm seamer Raymon Reifer taking five wickets as West Indies A took a 110-run lead. But a sensational fightback led by India’s seamers resulted in West Indies A being bowled out for 210 in their second innings.
Half-centuries from John Campbell and Jermaine Blackwood apart, there was little of note from the West Indies innings; they lost their last nine wickets for 85. Mohammad Siraj picked up four wickets while Rajneesh Gurbani, on India A debut, finished with three. Siraj finished with match figures of 8 for 132.
Chasing a mammoth score, India A openers R Samarth and Abhimanyu Easwaran put on 51. Then Nair, pressing for a middle order berth in India’s Test squad for England, struck eight fours in his 63-ball 55. His 136-run stand with the in-form Vihari put West Indies A on the backfoot. Their wickets early on the fourth day to threatened to take the game away, but Pant chose to make his mark on the tour with a responsible knock to guide the side home.
India A’s final tour game is a one-off Test against England Lions from July 16, one where a number of Test specialists like M Vijay, Mohammed Shami and Wriddhiman Saha are likely to feature ahead of the first Test against England on August 1 at Edgbaston.