For the second time in the series, India A went down to Australia A chasing a big score, and the sad part for India was that for the second time in the series, India A were actually in a position to chase down the big target, only to falter again. Of course, India A’s bowling did not stand up to the challenge of the strong Aussie batting line-up, but it must be said that it was their batting which was more disappointing. After all, everyone from the Indian top and middle order has represented the senior side with reasonable distinction.
The main reason why India A lost the game was because while their top three got fifties, not one of them went on to convert their innings into a hundred. Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay, opening the batting instead of Shikhar Dhawan, added 79 for the opening wicket, but they consumed 14.5 overs to notch up the runs, which meant that they needed to accelerate the innings. However, Sharma was disappointingly run out for 61. Of the two openers, Sharma was the more fluent one, hence his dismissal was a big setback for India A.
Following Sharma’s dismissal though Vijay and skipper Cheteshwar Pujara featured in a wonderful partnership. The duo took India A to a comfortable position from where they could push for victory. By the time Vijay was dismissed, India had progressed to 157 for 2 in 28.2 overs. Like Sharma, Vijay’s dismissal was also disappointing since he had taken up 77 balls for 60. Still, it was a stage from which they should have won the game. But, India A could not capitalise on the start they got, as the middle and lower order batsmen failed to stand up to the challenge.
After Sharma and Vijay failed to convert their start into a bigger score, it was up to Pujara to keep India in the hunt. But, he also lost his wicket after crossing his half-century, which pretty much signaled the end for India. The other batsmen in the team simply could not stand up to the pressure, as a result of which India eventually ended up well short of the target. The dismissals of Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik cheaply was a big setback for India A. Ambati Rayudu was another batsmen who got a start but could not carry on to make a substantial score.
The difference between India A and Australia A’s batsmen was that while India’s batsmen failed to build on their starts, Australia had two who played substantial knocks. Left-hander Shaun Marsh made a fluent 96 at the top of the innings, and when Australia A needed a push in the middle overs Glenn Maxwell blasted 93 from 56 balls. It was the innings which ensured Australia A easily crossed the 300-run mark. Unlike the Indians, they also got a final flourish with Mitchell Marsh and Nathan Coulter-Nile going all-out after the bowling. In short, Australia A’s batting outdid India’s.
--By A Cricket Analyst