A superb performance by medium-pacers Shardul Thakur (4 for 32) and Kuldeep Sen (3 for 30) helped set up a seven-wicket win for India ‘A’ against New Zealand ‘A’ in the first unofficial ODI on Thursday. Sent in to bat by India ‘A’ captain Sanju Samson, incisive bowling by Thakur and Sen had the visiting team in trouble from the start. At one stage, the New Zealanders looked in danger of being bundled out for less than 100 but some rearguard action by Michael Rippon (61, 104 balls, 4 fours) and Joe Walker (36, 49 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) helped them post 167 in 40.2 overs.
The Sanju Samson-led team overhauled the target set by the Kiwis in 31.5 overs with the captain (31 not out, 1 four, 3 sixes) and Rajat Patidar (45, 41 balls, 7 fours) finishing the job.
There were also useful contributions from opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (41, 54 balls 3 fours, 2 sixes) and Rahul Tripathi (31, 40 balls, 4 fours).
Earlier, on a pitch offering pace and bounce for the bowlers, Thakur struck the first blow by castling Chad Bowes (10) with NZ ‘A’ at 14 in the third over. In his next over, he had Dane Cleaver (4) caught by Sen.
Sen got into the act by dismissing Joe Carter (1) and Rachin Ravindra (10) in the space of three balls to leave the Kiwis at 26 for 4.
In his next over, Sen dismissed Tom Bruce for a duck to leave the opposition in shambles at 27 for 5.
Captain Robert O’Donnell and Sean Solia got down to the job of resurrecting the innings and took the score to 51 before the latter was run out by Rishi Dhawan.
O’ Donnell batted for 39 balls for his 21 before nicking one to ‘keeper Samson. Logan Van Beek (1) fell to Kuldeep Yadav and NZ ‘A’ slumped to 74 for 8.
Rippon was joined by off-spinner Walker and the duo slowly but surely mounted a fight. Rippon was the more cautious of the two and gathered runs and reached 50 from 82 balls.
No.10 batter Walker hit the first six of the match in the 29th over, slogging Shahbaz Ahmed over mid-wicket.
The duo took the score past 150 and looked good for some more before Rajat Patidar’s throw from the cover caught Walker short of his crease. The Rippon-Walker partnership for the ninth wicket yielded 89 runs and gave respectively to the total.
Rippon fell to Thakur for a well-compiled 61 as the Kiwis folded for 167.
In reply, Gaikwad batted in an enterprising manner even as the usually aggressive Prithvi Shaw (17, 24 balls, 1 six) was cautious.
Gaikwad hit a couple of boundaries and a six and kept the scoreboard ticking. Tripathi, who came in after the dismissal of Shaw to Matthew Fisher, got runs without taking too many risks.
Ruturaj missed out on a fifty, falling to a caught and bowled to left-arm spinner Rippon (1 for 28).
Medium-pacer Lorgan Verjus van Beek (1 for 38) bowled Tripathi before Samson and Patidar took over and saw the team home.
Patidar, who has been in good form recently and got a ton in the unofficial Test against New Zealand ‘A’ played some some attractive shots in his unbeaten 45 (41 balls, 7 fours).
Samson finished the match with a huge six.
Speaking after the game, Thakur, the star performer, said he was surprised to see New Zealand lose five wickets in the PowerPlay. “Because of 9 AM start, there was something in the air which we were able to exploit,” he added.
Brief Scores: New Zealand ‘A’ 167 all out in 40.2 overs (Michael Rippon 61, Joe Walker 36, Robert O’Donnell 22, Shardul Thakur 4 for 32, Kuldeep Sen 3 for 30) lost to India ‘A’ 170 for 3 in 31.5 overs (Rajat Patidar 45 not out, Ruturaj Gaikwad 41, Rahul Tripathi 31, Sanju Samson 29 not out).
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