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IND-A vs NZ-A, 1st Unofficial Test Day 1: Bengal pacer Mukesh picks three wickets, NZ-A scores 156/5

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Bengal seamer Mukesh Kumar, making his debut for a representative national side, picked three for 34 as New Zealand A could only score 156/5 in 61 overs before bad light stopped play.
Joe Carter and inclement weather frustrated India A bowlers on the opening day of the first unofficial Test at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

When the weather intervened and forced the players off the field a little after Tea, New Zealand A, which chose to bat, was on 156 for the loss of five wickets.

Carter was batting on 73 not out (170b, 10×4). There was no further action, as the day’s 29 overs were lost.

Carter arrived in the middle at the fall of the first wicket in the fifth over. Opener Chad Bowes was dismissed by Mukesh Kumar, the Bengal seamer who would prove to be the pick of bowlers.

Rachin Ravindra, the other opener, then fell to left-arm seamer Arzan Nagwaswalla.

When Yash Dayal, the Gujarat Titans left-arm pacer, removed Mark Chapmanthe visitors were reduced to 51 for three. But Carter and skipper Robert O’Donnell ensured there was no further hiccup till their team reached the 100-run mark.

Mukesh, however, trapped O’Donnell to end the fourth-wicket stand, which was worth 49. Wicket-keeper Cam Fletcher also gave solid support to Carter.

The fifth-wicket partnership had also added 49 when Fletcher too fell lbw to Mukesh, whose figures read an impressive three for 34 from 13 overs.

Sarfaraz Khan will be aiming to convert his stupendous domestic performances into big runs at the international level when he takes strike for India A in the first unofficial Test against New Zealand A at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru from Thursday.

The New Zealand A side comprises at least half a dozen of players who have represented the senior national team in some format over the years and would give competition to the home team.

Most of the players in the Indian squad are the ones who played an A series in South Africa late last year and would like to consolidate their positions in the Test team’s pecking order.

But no one would get the kind of traction that Sarfaraz is supposed to as he is back at the same venue where he scored a century in the Ranji Trophy final a couple of months ago.

While the chosen ones are either proven domestic performers or the likes of Kuldeep Yadavwho would like to get his mojo back having missed out on the red ball domestic season last time.

But in the case of the burly Mumbaikar, the attention would be much more because, after a near 1000-run Ranji Trophy season, he is literally knocking on the senior national team’s doors.

ndia’s next Test assignment is in Bangladesh in December, after the T20 World Cup in Australia.

In that squad, there could be at least one vacant middle order slot, if not two, and Sarfaraz is a serious contender to board the Dhaka-bound flight.

A strong indication of that has been given by the selectors, who decided to drop Hanuma Vihari from the India A side, and he will be playing the Duleep Trophy for South Zone, like Shreyas Iyer for the West Zone.

It can be said with some degree of certainty that the national selection committee is still not sanguine whether Vihari and Iyer are long-term solutions for India’s middle-order problems, with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane set to be phased out in the coming times.

Hence, the performances of Sarfaraz and the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad would be closely monitored.

Even skipper Priyank Panchal and his long-time A team partner Abhimanyu Easwaran would like to score heavily against bowlers like Matt Fisher, Benjamin Lister and Test spinner Rachin Ravindra.

While Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are India’s top opening pair and Shubman Gill being a floater in Tests, there is a place for another specialist opener, who could get opportunities in the future as the current skipper isn’t getting any younger.

.In the bowling department, Kuldeep will look for a lot of overs while Prasidh Krishna, who is now among the reserve bowlers in Test matches, will like to bend his back and prove that he is worthy replacement of Ishant Sharma when his time comes in the near future.

He will get to bowl at Mark Chapman, who had incidentally played the last (50 over) Asia Cup in the UAE for Hong Kong, and only a month back had a wonderful T20I series for the Black Caps against Scotland.

Since there are three Tests, NCA head and team’s head coach VVS Laxman would be trying out all the players across matches, following his predecessor Rahul Dravid’s policy.

Dravid’s simple philosophy for A team games was to look at creating a solid bench strength by identifying the core players for different positions, rather than thinking about a series win. Read More Test Cricket News…

India A Squad: Priyank Panchal (c), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Tilak Varma, Srikar Bharat, Upendra Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Saurabh Kumar, Rahul Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Umran Malik, Mukesh Kumar, Yash Dayal, Arzan Nagwaswalla

New Zealand A Squad: Tom Bruce (c), Robert ODonnell, Chad Bowes, Joe Carter, Mark Chapman, Dane Cleaver, Jacob Duffy, Matthew Fisher, Cam Fletcher, Ben Lister, Rachin Ravindra, Michael Rippon, Sean Solia, Logan van Beek, Joe Walker

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