Rohit and Pandey flay Sri Lankans
India A 382 for 6 (Rohit 142, Pandey 135*, Chand 54) beat Sri Lankans 294 for 9 (Tharanga 76, Karn 4-47) by 88 runs
With Sri Lanka deciding to give all fifteen members of their squad a go, the match didn't have any statistical relevance. Still Rohit's innings showed that he has recovered from his injuries while Pandey's and Karn's efforts in the comprehensive 88-run victory will help push their case for national selection.
Rohit was playing his first match after being sidelined for 10 weeks due to a finger injury on his right hand. Pandey was keen to justify his maiden call-up to the national team, after being selected for the Twenty20 against West Indies, which was cancelled following the withdrawal of the West Indians from the tour. Karn, on the other hand, was desperate for a strong performance after losing his place in the limited-overs squad.
In these circumstances, Rohit's stay at the wicket for almost three hours and his 214-run second-wicket partnership off 166 balls turned out to be a morale-booster for the batsman. Rohit opened the innings with Unmukt Chand and focused on spending time at the wicket while his younger partner went after the Sri Lankan quicks.
While the Sri Lankans tried out 11 bowlers, none of them could find the right line length. Chand took full toll on the pacers, using his favourite pull shot to good effect as he took only 39 deliveries to race to his third successive fifty in a tour game. It was the same shot which eventually proved fatal for Chand as he top-edged a catch to the keeper to give Lahiru Gamage his first wicket on the tour.
In came Pandey and he started timing the ball sweetly from the first delivery he faced. He and Rohit never allowed the scoring rate to drop below run-a-ball, as the Sri Lankan bowlers struggled with their line and length.
The duo was especially harsh on the bowlers during the second Powerplay, which was taken at the start of the 32nd over, as they amassed 71 runs in the five overs. During that spell, Rohit brought up his century with a cut off Nuwan Kulasekara that sped to the point boundary. In the next two overs, Rohit swept pacers Kulasekara and Dhammika Prasad over deep square leg - while the first shot, off Kulasekara, landed in the stands, the latter bounced just inside the ropes.
Even after Rohit was run out by a direct hit from Gamage in the deep, Pandey kept going. Perhaps the only highlight of the innings for the Sri Lankans was collecting four wickets in the last two overs, including three in the penultimate over bowled by Prasad. However, all the dismissals were due to batsmen trying to score quick runs rather than due to the bowlers' efforts.
Once Dhawal Kulkarni forced a nick off Kusal Perera's bat in the first over of the chase, the visitors preferred to spend time at the wicket rather than going for the mammoth target of 383. However, Karn, the leggie, deprived the top-order batsmen of a big knock. After trapping Tillakaratne Dilshan in front of the wickets off his first ball, Karn added the scalps of Angelo Mathews, Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga, the only Sri Lankan to cross fifty. The ball of the day turned out to be Karn's googly in the 32nd over which went between Jayawardene's bat and pad and crashed into the stumps.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo