Ajinkya Rahane warmed-up for the one-day series with a fine 91, leading India A to a comprehensive six-wicket win over England in the second warm-up match at the Brabourne Stadium on Thursday. Chasing a target of 283, India A won in 39.4 overs.
Though Rahane, back in action after recovering from finger surgery, will be the only one from this squad to join the India team in Pune for the one-day series, there were some more gains for the hosts other than their captain running into form.
The 19-year-old Rishabh Pant lived up to the hype as the most exciting talent in the country, smashing the England bowlers at will during a 36-ball 59. He will be playing the Twenty20 series against the same opposition and the innings will boost his confidence. Suresh Raina, on a comeback after a long break due to injury and illness, also geared up for the T20 series with a power-packed 45 off 33 balls.
Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (2/41) and opener Sheldon Jackson (59) too underlined their potential with solid performances.
Most importantly, India A players have given England much to think about going into the one-day series, starting on Sunday, creating doubts in the visitors’ camp.
Thursday’s hiding would have eroded some of the confidence gained in the first warm-up game where England successfully chased 305 total. They will be equally concerned about the effort of their main spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, who finished with figures of 7-0-51-1 and 7-0-46-1 respectively.
England’s spin woes
Their batsmen’s main concern has been playing spin, and in the second warm-up game they did not do much to address the weakness.
The stroke players at the top of the order were comfortable against the pacers, but as in the Test series they struggled when the spinners came on.
India A tweakers Nadeem and Parvez Rasool tied them in knots and only fine rearguard batting by England’s last wicket pair of David Willey and Rashid helped to recover from a mid-innings slump to post 282 after electing to bat.
Willey and Rashid added 71 runs after the visitors had crashed to 211 for nine. The two targeted the pace bowlers, Rashid hitting 39 off 42 balls with Willey unbeaten on 38 off 30 balls.
Though the scoreboard looked good in the end, the England management won’t be pleased with how their batsmen handled the slow bowlers. Their total was mainly built on runs plundered against the medium-pacers. Pradeep Sangwan went for 64 runs in 6.4 overs, Ashok Dinda conceded 55 off eight and Vinay Kumar gave away 47 off seven.
Rasool, Nadeem show
England’s frailties against spin were there to see. This time the visitors found the going tough against Nadeem and Rasool. They applied the brake after England’s top-order had started brightly. The duo tormented skipper Eoin Morgan and Co by exploiting the purchase on offer with Rasool finishing with 10-1-38-3.
England were coasting at 116 for one in 16.5 overs, but frittered away the strong start.
The introduction of spin turned the tide. Nadeem immediately settled into rhythm and when skipper Rahane introduced Rasool from the other end, the two built pressure with some tidy overs. Though Alex Hales and Jos Buttler were well set, they found it difficult to work the ball around. Hales fell soon, caught at shot midwicket by Rahane off Nadeem for 51. It opened the floodgates. Nadeem removed Morgan for a duck. Buttler too failed to open his account, while Moeen made one.