Australia A 38 for 2 & 346 trail India A 505 (Bharat 106, Easwaran 86, Samarth 83, Tremain 3-41, Agar3-87) by 121 runs
India A batted Australia A into a corner on the third day of the second unofficial Test in Alur. They lead of 159 came on the back of KS Bharat‘s 106, and his various partnerships with the lower order that meant India made 205 for the last five wickets, finishing eventually with 505 in reply to Australia’s 346. Bharat’s century was India’s first of the series, and the innings was at its peak during his eight-wicket stand of 113 with Kuldeep Yadav, who batted 112 balls for his 52.
The pair were in full control after they’d both been dropped off part-time legspinner Marnus Labuschagne when the lead was slim. Kuldeep then begun dominating the stand, looking calm and assured as Australia switched their bowlers around constantly. While the innings was studded with boundaries, it was an aggressive one in approach, with the footwork sorted the whole way through against pace and spin.
It gave Bharat the license to play the boundary strokes at the other end and he picked up 12 fours and a six during his forage. Bharat’s most productive strokes were the hook and the cover drive, both of which were a consequence of Australia’s struggle to hold up a constant strategy. The seamers, particularly Brendan Doggett, were all over the place against Bharat and on a slow pitch, he cashed in on their offerings.
Against spin, he was more content playing with a straight bat, often in defence, and rarely got out of the crease to manufacture shots. There wasn’t much need for it in any case, with Australia’s spread out fields offering many easy run-scoring avenues.
This was also the case when Shubman Gill had got going in the first session. Gill, the overnight batsman alongside India A captain Shreyas Iyer, had a much easier start to the day than should have been, considering the that the same bowlers – Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Swepson – had troubled them in the last 30 minutes on Sunday. The pair had even come out to overcast, cold conditions, which offered the Australian bowlers more than they had got on a blazing Sunday.
But they were barely troubled, with Swepson struggling to land the ball from around the wicket. Many full tosses down leg side were put away, including one that was ramped by Iyer over the long leg boundary, and when he did finally start landing the ball, the umpires deemed that he was bowling a negative line and penalised him. Marsh did end up slanting one in to beat Iyer and hit his stumps, but Australia’s day would be filled with more such peculiar moments.
In front of a considerably bigger home crowd than had watched during the weekend, the Australians came apart slowly, with fumbles and extras, and were even penalised for having three fielders behind the popping crease on the leg side at one point.
The start of that decline began with Gill’s exquisite wrists that aided his flowing drives, but were especially impressive as he got on the back foot to manipulate the square field on the off side. Australia operated with one slip all day, and Gill used that open side of the field to full effect.
But the 19-year-old batsman didn’t capitalise on his fluid start, and was bowled playing inside the line of a Chris Remain delivery with India still 46 behind and a fragile lower order exposed. K Gowtham undid the pressure though – as Bharat endured an anxious start – and his confident batting brought India five runs away from parity. By then, Bharat settled in and shepherded the lower order.
Australia were given only three overs of seam bowling to play as they came out to play the last hour, and the relentless intensity of India’s spinners produced wickets off stark variety. Kurtis Patterson got into his shell and was bowled leaving an arm ball from Gowtham. At the other end, Renshaw’s attacking strategy produced a pictureesque straight six against Nadeem, but some sweeps later, he top-edged one to a diving Deepak Chahar at short fine leg.