New Zealand A take opening day honours despite Gill-Vihari fifties


A strong, collective performance from the New Zealand A bowlers put their side on top on the opening day of the first Unofficial Test vs India A at Hagley Oval, Christchurch. Having won a good toss on a reasonably lively surface, the hosts’ new-ball pair of Jacob Duffy and Michael Rae hit the straps instantly, removing the rock-solid top order of Abhimanyu Easwaran, Mayank Agarwal, and Priyank Panchal rather cheaply with just 34 on the board.

Shubman Gill and Hanuma Vihari then threw a counter-punch through a fourth-wicket partnership of 119 that came off just 141 deliveries. The former was the aggressor, peppering the field with some sublime strokes and also going over the fence a couple of times with strong blows. Vihari was more steady in his approach, blunting the bowlers but he too didn’t shy away from punishing the loose deliveries.

The pair looked set for big scores but the gentle off-spin of Cole McConchie got rid of Vihari and shortly, Gill missed out on a deserving ton as he got dislodged by Rae. The lower middle-order and tail hardly contributed, with the last seven wickets falling for just 63 runs. To sum it up, barring the fourth-wicket partnership, there wasn’t anything much to write home about, as far as India A’s batting effort was concerned.

In reply, New Zealand A started solidly but lost Hamish Rutherford who nicked one behind off Ishan Porel in the 10th over. Will Young and Rachin Ravindra then stitched a 68-run stand to provide a stable platform for the home side. However, the latter fell towards the fag end of the day to Mohammad Siraj. Nightwatchman Ajaz Patel gave Young company, and the duo warded off further threats.

Brief scores: India A 206 (Gill 83, Vihari 51, Rae 4-51) vs New Zealand A 105/2 (Ravindra 47, Young 26*)


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