Australia A spin towards follow-on
Australia A 113 for 8 (North 41, Parmar 3-37, Chawla 2-36) trail India A 284 (Kaif 94, Chawla 66, Bollinger 4-59) by 171 runs
The Australia A batsmen undid all the good work of their bowlers as they crumbled to 113 for 8 against India A, still 22 runs short of avoiding the follow-on by the end of the second day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Piyush Chawla, the star of the show, hit a breezy 66 earlier in the day to stretch India A to 284, before combining with Mohnish Parmar, the offspinner, to wreak havoc in the visitor's camp.
It was another bizarre day's play as there was no devil in the pitch to warrant the fall of 14 wickets. The ball neither spun viciously nor shot through low but the Indian spin duo cruelly exposed the batsmen's inadequacy against spin. The worrying part, for Australia A, was that the Indians didn't even have to try hard. There were no great changes in flight or pace - Chawla just punctuated his quickish legbreaks with googlies while Parmar interspersed offbreaks with doosras. But the arsenal was enough today to do the damage.
Parmar delivered the killer blow when he removed Simon Katich with the score on 45. Katich, the only visiting batsman who looked comfortable, failed to pick a doosra, padding up just outside off stump. Perhaps the sight of their captain falling in that manner unsettled the rest and barring Marcus North, to an extent, they never looked like they could tackle the twin threats of Parmar and Chawla.
One by one they foundered, unable to read the variations. North jabbed a Chawla slider on to his stumps, Luke Ronchi didn't pick a googly before Parmar got into the action again. Noffke was trapped in front by a quickish offbreak and Beau Casson was done in by a doosra. In between, Piyush Chawla ran out Peter Siddle to compound the agony.
The Australians were always on the back foot after they got off to a poor start with Philip Hughes, the 19-year old opener, and Adam Voges falling to incutters from the seamers - Dhawal Kulkarni and Sudeep Tyagi respectively. Both fell to back-of-length deliveries that kept a touch lower than they expected, creating an opening for the Indian spinners.
However, when the game began on the second day, after another delayed start due to overnight rain, it was Australia A who looked to be on top. They allowed only 104 runs to be added for the fall of the last six Indian wickets, despite missing both their frontline spinners - legspinner Bruce McGain didn't bowl because of a shoulder strain, while a hamstring problem on the first day had already ruled out chinaman bowler Beau Casson.
Mohammad Kaif, who looked very secure in the middle for the second day in a row, fell trying to do the unexpected - reach his hundred with a six - but couldn't clear the deepish mid-off.
Chawla, who shared a 52-run stand with Kaif, hit out against the part-time spinners Marcus North and Adam Voges, to push the hosts to a competitive total. He cover drove a few times and lifted the ball cleanly over the infield while Australia A continued to pick wickets at the other end.
Bollinger was rewarded with three wickets today for some disciplined line-and-length bowling as he finished with 4 for 59, but as it transpired, the hunters had become the hunted by the end of a dramatic evening session dominated by the Indian spinners.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo