July 16, 2003

Bhandari gives India A the edge against second-string Surrey

Wisden CricInfo staff

Surrey fielded as many as five debutants against India A at The Oval, and the tourists duly took advantage of the depleted side by knocking the batting over quickly, before racing to 235 for 2 by stumps on the first day.

Amit Bhandari bowled 15 overs of impressive fast-medium to snap up 5 for 54, taking the first three wickets before coming back to punch a hole in the middle order. Aavishkar Salvi took 3 for 49, while Lakshmipathy Balaji and Amit Mishra took one apiece.

For Surrey, only Rikki Clarke showed any resistance. He struck 38 off 35 balls, hitting six fours and a six, before falling as Lakshmipathy Balaji's only wicket.

Surrey's bowling too proved ineffective, and only Wasim Jaffer (21) failed after getting a start. Shiv Sunder Das made a steady 74 with 12 fours and a six, but the real thrust of the innings came after his dismissal.

S Sriram and Gautam Gambhir combined well to put on an unbeaten 85 for the third wicket, one playing an anchoring foil to the other's explosiveness. Sriram's 92 came about in quick enough time - off 112 balls - but Gambhir took only 35 balls for his 43, cuffing nine fours before the close of play.

Surrey used seven bowlers, but India A still led by 62 runs with eight wickets remaining and two days to play. They will almost certainly win this game, but they may not be thrilled at the second-string reception that met them at The Oval.