If Shaun Marsh made a strong case for himself with a fluent ton on Friday to get picked for the first Test in Pune, it was his younger brother Mitchell Marsh to give some selection headache for the Australian team management on Saturday.
Stumps in Mumbai with India A 4-176, Iyer 85 not out.— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) February 18, 2017
Bird 2-15 off 11
Marsh 0-26 off 9
Lyon 2-72 off 17
O'Keefe 0-59 off 14#INDAvAUS
The battle for the No. 6 spot between Marsh and Glenn Maxwell was intriguing. While Marsh scored a patient 75 which included 11 boundaries and one six, Maxwell too came in handy with an unbeaten 16 off 25 balls as Australia declared their innings at 469/7 after batting for 529 minutes.
It will now boil down to whether the selectors prefer Marsh’s medium pace or Maxwell’s off-spin, depending upon the conditions on offer in Pune. Smith made his spinners Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe bowl extensively, but the way Shreyas Iyer, unbeaten on 85 off 93 balls (7x4, 5x6), toyed with them, it wouldn’t have been very pleasing for the Australian skipper.
Lyon claimed 2/72 in 17 overs, while O’Keefe went wicket-less for 59 runs in 14 overs. Pacer Jackson Bird was the most impressive Australian bowler with 11-7-15-2 as India ‘A’ scored 176/4, trailing by 293 runs at stumps on the penultimate day of the tour game at Brabourne Stadium on Saturday.
Resuming at 327/3, Australian batsmen Marsh and Matthew Wade were hardly troubled in the first session. After a conservative approach initially, Marsh and Wade started finding gaps at will.
Marsh managed to thread a strong off side field. The timing on two glorious cover drives off Hardik Pandya would have pleased the Australian coach Darren Lehmann, skipper Steven Smith as well as chief selector Trevor Hohns.
Wade used the sweep shot quite often, something that will bother the Indian outfit for the Test series. India ‘A’ finally got the breakthrough in the first session when Wade top edged to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, who took over the keeping gloves from Ishan Kishan, off Akhil Herwadkar for 64. It also ended the 129-run fourth wicket partnership.
After the lunch break, Australia lost Marsh, holing out to substitute Baba Indrajith at mid-off. Thirty three minutes into the second session, skipper Smith decided to declare the innings after a satisfying batting performance.
Iyer denies Lyon to dominate
Just as the Australians dominated the India ‘A’ bowlers with the bat, their bowlers also looked to control the proceedings when the Indian batsmen began their chase. To a large extent they succeeded after giving away just 14 runs in the first 10 overs.
Australia’s most experienced spinner Nathan Lyon, who was introduced as early as in the fifth over, was rewarded with wickets of India ‘A’ openers Akhil Herwadkar (4 off 36 balls) and Priyank Panchal (36) before the tea interval.
Both were soft dismissals though — Herwadkar hitting straight back to the bowler and Panchal edging to Peter Handscomb at forward short leg while trying to negate the spin and bounce.
Iyer, however, denied Lyon from completing dominating the Indian batsmen. With a six over midwicket off the first ball he faced, it was clear Iyer would back his natural game. He then slammed another two sixes off Lyon and then a couple off O’Keefe. Jackson Bird dismissed Ankit Bawne (25) and skipper Hardik Pandya (19), but it hardly had any impact on Iyer’s approach.