Ignored in IPL 2022 auction, Former Punjab Kings spinner’s fifer helps India A beat Kiwis, clinch series 1-0
The target of 416 in a red-ball game used to mean that the game was over for the chasing side. Often in modern day cricket the bowling side has been punished for assuming that a 400-plus total will guarantee them a win. The India A side faced a similar challenge as they set out to defend a 416 runs against Kiwis in the last unofficial Test of the three-game series. They were tested by a strong Kiwi batting lineup but former Punjab Kings (PBKS) spinner Saurabh Kumar who was not picked in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 auction, helped the hosts emerge victoriously.
Opener Joe Carter and Dane Cleaver steadied the ship. It was Saurabh who broke the partnership again with the wicket of Cleaver. Saurabh got another wicket via lbw. Cleaver missed his half-century and scored 44 runs from 60 deliveries.
Carter continued to anchor the innings and shared another crucial partnership with Mark Chapman. In order to break the fourth-wicket partnership, Priyank Panchal introduced Sarfaraz Khan into the side. Sarfaraz answered the skipper's call with the wicket of Chapman. The left-handed batter scored 45 runs from 61 deliveries including five fours and one six. They shared a 82-run partnership for the fourth-wicket. Shortly, Sarfaraz struck again and got the wicket of Robert Odonell (19).
Once, New Zealand A were reduced to 222/5, the hosts sniffed victory. Saurabh got the wicket of skipper Tom Bruce (19) and increased New Zealand A's problems. It led to a batting collapse. Saurabh got the wickets of Sean Solia (8), Jacob Duffy (4) whereas express pacer Umran Malik got rid of wicketkeeper-batter Cam Fletcher. Carter's fightback was ended by Mukesh Kumar. He scored 111 runs from 230 deliveries including 12 fours and one six.
In India A's second innings, Patidar remained unbeaten for 109 off 135 deliveries including 13 fours and two sixes. Patidar was well-supported by Panchal (62), Ruturaj Gaikwad (94) and Sarfaraz. In New Zealand A's first innings, Saurabh struck four times and Rahul Chahar got three wickets. New Zealand A got all out for 237 as they lacked partnerships.
In India A's first innings, Gaikwad top-scored with 127-ball 108 to help the hosts post 293. Upendra Yadav played second fiddle to him with 76-run knock.
The other two unofficial Tests ended in a draw as rain played spoilsport.