England Lions 423 and 194 for 5 (Malan 56, Pope 50*) beat India A 197 (Shaw 62, Pant 58, Curran 5-43) and 167 (Pant 61, Rahane 48) by 253 runs
England Lions wrapped up a comprehensive 253-run victory on the final day of their four-day unofficial Test at New Road, as India A were rolled aside for 167 midway through the afternoon session, having started the day at an uncompromising 11 for 3.
The wickets were shared around an attack including several players who are hopeful of a recall for the first Test against India at Edgbaston on August 1 – including Chris Woakes, whose five-over second innings spell included the scalp of India A’s captain, Karun Nair, and the Somerset spin twins, Jack Leach and Dom Bess, who picked up three wickets between them.
India A’s saving grace were a pair of decent innings from two men who can expect to be in the mix come the Test series – Ajinkya Rahane, who made 48 from 70 balls, and the young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, who enhanced his claims to a potential Test debut by top-scoring with 61 from 71, including seven fours and two sixes.
Though Pant is nominally the reserve wicketkeeper in India’s 18-man Test squad, behind Dinesh Karthik, this was his second fifty of the match, following his first-innings 58, and was produced against a strong and multi-faceted attack.
India’s second innings reached its nadir at 15 for 4 shortly after the resumption when Shabhaz Nadeem was bowled by Sam Curran’s first ball of the morning. Nair then became Woakes’ first wicket of the innings, and his third of the match, when he was caught by Nick Gubbins for 13.
Bess, who is England’s incumbent Test spinner, having replaced his Somerset team-mate Leach following the latter’s thumb injury in May, enhanced his claims to retaining that berth by dislodging both of the India A top-scorers in an eight-over spell. Leach was limited to just a couple of second-innings overs, but chipped in with the scalp of Jayant Yadav for 21.
“It was a very pleasing performance,” said England Lions captain, Rory Burns. “They were a good side, and we had a pretty comprehensive victory. It was set up day one by Alastair Cook, backed up by Gubbo and Dawid, and the rest of the four days all the bowlers stuck in. Sammy took the plaudits on the first innings but they all worked as group.
“It was a bit bizarre captaining a team with all this experience. On the training day when it got announced to the group, Cooky was the first one to pipe up about me making my debut as captain.
“It’s the first time I’ve shared a dressing room with him. I’ve watched his bat hurt us a few times. But it’s been really interesting with Cooky and a few of the other guys, to see the other side of people having played against them quite a lot. This has been my first Lions experience and it’s been really enjoyable – 100% I want more. That’s up to me I suppose, go back to Surrey and keep trying to churn them out.”
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