VISAKHAPATNAM (TIP): India ‘A’ dug deep and were challenged right through before managing a two-wicket win with four balls to spare in the final one-dayer against New Zealand ‘A’ at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACAVDCA Stadium on September 12. Ashok Menaria yet again stood out for his all-round abilities, taking 2/45 and playing a blistering knock of 69 (8×6, 2×4), while Mandeep Singh (37 no, 3×4, 1×6) played a levelheaded innings towards the end, adding 47 runs for the eighth wicket with Rahul Sharma (20, 3×4), as India ‘A’ chased down 291. The win helped India win the series 3-0 after a drawn ‘Test’ series. The visitors’ new-ball pair of Mark Gillespie (3/43) and Douglas Bracewell (1/37) bowled to a steady line, getting rid of India ‘A’ skipper Unmukt Chand (11, 1×4). Gillespie, who accounted for Chand, then dismissed Sanju Samson (5, 1×4) to reduce the hosts to 43 for 2. Robin Uthappa (46, 6×4, 1×6) and Sachin Baby (16, 2×4) added 35 before the Kiwis got rid of the two.
At 79-4, India ‘A’ looked vulnerable for the first time in the series. With the target still 212 away, it all boiled down to Menaria and Kedhar Jadhav (57, 5×4, 2×6) to keep the hosts in the hunt. And, they did just that. The introduction of Todd Astle (0/37) in the 25th over saw Menaria amass 24 runs (3 sixes and 1 four) from it, altering the complexion of the contest. From the eight deliveries Menaria faced from Astle, he hit 36 runs. The Jadhav-Menaria stand added 128 runs in 17.5 overs for the fifth wicket. While Menaria’s clean hits brought down the asking rate, Jadhav played the role of second fiddle to perfection. The Menaria-Jadhav partnership brought life into the contest, turning the tide firmly in the hosts’ favor.