Yuvraj Singh seems to have made another point about his fitness to make a Test comeback. A day after skipper MS Dhoni stressed on that aspect for the player to find a place in the side for the home series against England, he produced his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket bowling left-arm spin.
England took the first innings lead in their first of three warm-up matches after Samit Patel (104) followed his skipper Alastair Cook by scoring the second century of the innings. India ‘A’ were 124 for four with Ajinkya Rahane helping himself to a half-century when the match was called off as a draw at the Brabourne stadium. Staying and going
But the visitors would surely have walked away with more gains than the home side, more importantly in terms of denying England batsmen any useful practice against spin. After refusing to pick a spinner in the India ‘A’ eleven to help India retain the advantage in the Test series, starting on November 15, they unwittingly seemed to concede the advantage.
In the end, India ‘A’, led by Suresh Raina, ended up bowling 48.5 overs of spin out of the 119.5 overs the England innings lasted.
While Yuvraj’s effort would have pleased the player no end, he ended up bowling the most number of overs and Raina also bowled many overs of off-spin, defeating the whole idea of denying England batsmen any practice against slow bowlers.
Coach Lalchand Rajput was forced to admit that it was unrealistic to expect a team not to use its slow bowlers. “We had to maintain the overrate plus things were working with the spinners,” the former India opener said, sounding very practical.
And the amused English camp was more than happy to get an unexpectedly good amount of spin practice. “Yuvraj and Raina are still spinners, we have to respect them and they did a good job. It’s good practice at the end of the day,” said Samit Patel (104), who was glad to score a hundred and push his chance of playing in the first Test as an all-rounder, along side off-spinner Graeme Swann.
The positives for the home side came in batting. Manoj Tiwary, opener Abhinav Mukund and Yuvraj Singh in the first innings and Rahane in the second innings got useful knocks. But bowling, barring the effort of Yuvraj, was a letdown with only pacer Ashok Dinda producing a decent effort.
The Bengal bowler showed the same intensity he displayed on Wednesday. He managed to coax Cook into a drive, which resulted in an edge to the 'keeper. Patel was one of the victims of Yuvraj, who once again prove he was more than a useful bowler in home conditions.
Rahane looked the most composed with the bat in the 40 overs India ‘A’ batsmen faced in their second innings. The Mumbai batsman’s feet were moving well as he scored his 20th first-class fifty. A drive to the cover boundary off Swann, despite not reaching the pitch of the ball, underlined his hand-eye coordination.
India ‘A’ pacers Irfan Pathan, Vinay Kumar and Parvinder Awana looked listless once the new ball lost its sheen, although Raina had defended them on Wednesday. “Some of the bowlers (Pathan) were coming from South Africa, so it took time to adjust. Dinda played the Duleep Trophy, and he bowled well.”
Wriddhiman Saha, India’s number two ’keeper, had an equally poor outing, dropping three catches.