Manish Pandey ton fires India A to series-clinching win over New Zealand A
Manish Pandey remained unbeaten on 111. (AFP Image)

For the second consecutive game, India A’s middle order batsmen came to the party. Manish Pandey scored an unbeaten century, while Shreyas Iyer and allrounder Vijay Shankar chipped in with useful half-centuries as India A downed New Zealand A by five wickets to go 2-0 up in the three-match series.

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Having lost the first game, putting over 300 runs on the board, New Zealand A set India A target of 300 to win, and despite the having all the elements of proving to be a humdinger, India A sealed the game with an over to spare. In the previous game too, it was the trio of Pandey, Iyer and Shankar who had scripted India’s win.

Winning the toss an opting to bat, New Zealand a lost Hamish Rutherford, centurion from the previous match cheaply, but his opening partner George Worker made up for his partner’s early dismissal by scoring a half-century and putting on 190 runs for the second wicket with Will Young. But while Worker missed out on his century by one run, clean bowled by Axar Patel, his Young completed his century and seemed to be driving New Zealand towards a total easily in excess of 300 before the Indian bowlers marked a comeback of sorts.

Khaleel Ahmed conceded 65 off nine overs but provided the much-needed breakthrough for India A, removing Young, who was caught by Agarwal for 102. Krishnappa Gowtham sent back Corey Anderson for a second-ball duck, followed by the wicket of Tim Seifert, who was cleaned up by Navdeep Saini. Daryl Mitchell smashed a quick unbeaten 28-ball 45 and even as Doug Bracewell and Cole McConchie departed in quick succession, he was able to take New Zealand within striking distance of 300. For India A, despite conceding over seven an over, Saini and Khaleel bagged two wickets each.

India’s openers Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal received starts but failed to capitalise on it. Their dismissal in a short span of time brought out Iyer and Pandey in the middle and the pair began rebuilding brick by brick. Iyer and Pandey added 90 runs for the third wicket before Hamish Bennett took out Iyer for his second wicket.

But if New Zealand A had any plans of cashing in on this small opening which they had received, Pandey and Shankar thwarted those plans with a 123-run stand in just 19 overs for the fourth wicket. During the partnership both batsmen reached their respective landmarks. Fittingly, Pandey hit the winning runs and remained unbeaten having scored five boundaries and three sixes.

Brief scores: India A 300/5 (Manish Pandey 111*, Vijay Shankar 59; Cole McConchie 2-39) beat New Zealand A 299/9 (Will Young 102, George Worker 99; Khaleel Ahmed 2-65, Navdeep Saini 2-68) by five wickets.