India A v WI A, 2nd unofficial Test, Shimoga, 3rd day October 4, 2013

India A lower order minimises WI A lead


West Indies A 406 and 28 for 0 (Brathwaite 18*, Powell 9*) lead India A 359 (Nayar 89, Jagadeesh 86, Kaul 64, Cummins 3-58) by 75 runs

At the end of each day's play, long after the players have left the Jawaharlal Nehru National College of Engineering Ground in Shimoga, around 200 people gather outside the West Indies A pavilion. These are mostly volunteers - only a few of them as college employees are paid extra for this - waiting for their work in the day to be accounted for. One by one, a certain committee's name is called up on the microphone.

"Sight-screen committee," you can hear, "today was okay, but in the 27th over, just before lunch, you let a man cross the screen as the bowler was running in. You can get better tomorrow." There are 18 such committees formed only for these six days. There is a food-for-players committee, there is a food-for-others committee, one committee looks after the police's needs, and another committee liaises with the BCCI and Karnataka State Cricket Association.

Some of these 200 volunteers are either college students, doctors, board officials or friends. Except for the college workers who have been paid extra to work here, nobody is getting paid. This is only the fourth first-class match the city is holding, and the second for this particular venue. Shimoga isn't quite the seasoned pro, but it doesn't want to leave much to chance.

Over the last three days, the committees and the volunteers have been rewarded with healthy crowds, but the actual cricket has fallen prey to a slow and flat pitch. When, at 11.04am on the final morning, Mohammad Kaif flicked one past midwicket, India A had successfully avoided the follow-on. The pitch was not going to break up, and this match was reduced to a glorified net session.

The lower order enjoyed it and batted without pressure or direction. By the time the last India A wicket fell, only 47 runs separated the two teams, and there was only a day and 14 overs left to force a result. India A had no incentive to go for quick runs. West Indies A - missing Fidel Edwards, who bowled just four overs - couldn't find enough in the pitch to blast their way through the lower order. Nor was there a brilliant innings to watch because of the slowness of the pitch.

At least in Ranji Trophy, the teams still continue to fight for first-innings points. Here the ceasefire was declared after a little over halftime. The only way to get close to a result was a follow-on or some really inept batting. A-team cricket is meant to prepare you for international challenges through simulation, but if it is played on dead pitches, half of it tends to be less intense than a Ranji Trophy match.

The only batsman who managed to dictate on the pitch was Abhishek Nayar, becoming the sixth half-centurion to fail to get to the century. He fell to a reverse-sweep when on 89 off 88. He said the pitch was "difficult to score runs on, though there isn't much happening there. It's a slow pitch so I think sometimes having more sporting pitches may give results. But I also felt both teams batted pretty well".

When Nayar fell, following VA Jagadeesh's dismissal for 86, India A were 12 short of making West Indies A bat again. That task was duly achieved, and after that everybody sort of went through the motions. Wicketkeeper Uday Kaul managed to stick around for a half-century. Miguel Cummins managed to produce a yorker to consign Zaheer Khan to a golden duck, but the big crowd didn't have much else to write home about.

Zaheer followed up with an economical five-over spell, but the West Indies A openers saw him off with ease. A pretty innocuous day's play ended with 87.1 overs producing seven wickets and runs at 2.25 an over. Another such day was in store, but the volunteers still waited for their committee's name on the microphone.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mike on October 5, 2013, 13:01 GMT

    India are ordinary. This is too easy for Windies.

  • Michael on October 5, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    It was said that when Sehwag and co were included in the second unofficial test match West Indies would be crushed. That did not happen. Now I am not saying that West Indies is stronger than Indian cricket at present, but everyone must now admit that we have made significant strides. So to all the Indian fans out there please learn to respect opponents irrespective of who they are as underestimation is a very dangerous quality.

  • Dummy4 on October 5, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    the curse of the half centuries this A tour is frustraating sumtimes its hard to see so many 80+ scores and not 100s

  • Dummy4 on October 5, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    I was among the active campaigners for giving Razool more chances. But here is the latest result against W I -A Team. Bhargav Bhatt also bowled on the same pitch against the same players.

    1st Innings 2nd innings Both Innings together

    Razool 33 overs - 1 wicket 27 0vers - 0 wicket 60 overs - 1 wicket Bhatt 31 overs - 7 wickets 27 Overs - 2 wickets 58 overs - 9 wickets

    In the last few matches, the India regulars like Ashwin & Jadeja are also giving extremely poor bowling results. So, the selectors are doing the right thing: try out as many options as possible, before the busy season starts.

  • Dummy4 on October 5, 2013, 0:45 GMT

    @Dr.Navdeep Johar on (October 4, 2013, 18:52 GMT).

    Please don't get lost in the past glories. We are all grateful to our cricketing greats of the recent past: Viru, Gouti, Dravid, Sachin, VVS, Bhajji, Zak et al. They will continue to have our love, respect & admiration. However they should also know when to give way to the 'future', without clinging on to the past thrones. That is why I didn't include Sourav and Kumble in the above list.

    Now time has come, or all of us to think of and build for the future.

    Hero worship is adversely affecting even some of the current India players. Just to give an example, today (Friday), the current India spinners, Ashwin & Jadeja were totally out performed by a lesser 'praised' Bhargav Bhat and almost unknown Pravin Tambe! Moral is clear. Shift your view from the rear view mirror; don't live in reveries; look into the road ahead; and be alert at the 'drivers' who may sleep at the wheels, intoxicated with success & praise.

  • Dummy4 on October 4, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    Please guys. Sehwag gambhir zak are world champion of India. Have respe nor they are adoldas sachin ie 40+ so please. Rohit sharma failed for years. Why suddenly have faith in him. Mindu hr has been pathetic against Zimbabwe. Pl check series in July. Hr dcores50 in a dead rubber. Don't judge Sehwag gambhir zak by 2/3 innings. Talk logic. They are not ordinary players. All credit goes to Sehwag to make India no1 test team in the world. Please itwasnotrohit or vijay

  • Ivan on October 4, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    @StraighHit: One swallow does not a summer make. These are class players - give them time and they will shine.

  • Dummy4 on October 4, 2013, 17:48 GMT

    A few Observations (updated at the end of Day 3)

    1.Failed come-backers' line extends further: (a) Yusuf, (b) Gauti, (c) Viru,(d) Zak, & (e) Kaif. Don't have to say much. I had already said enough at the end of Day 1 & 2. The only question is who is next.

    2. Going beyond this tournament, glad to get the feel that not only Dravid is hanging boots after this CLT-20, may be Sachin too, after the 200th Test?

    3. How many Jagdeesh's might have gone unnoticed under the radar, during the somnambulist days of several selection committees in the past.

    4. Nayar always does well; except when he wears the India clothing; real mystory. Poor unlucky chap!

    5. Hype on Rasool (where I also contributed), was only from the novelty value. We were all mistaken. The newly improved version of Bhargav Bhatt is a far better bowler.

    6. The gradual decline of Ashwin ( hope it is only a temporary dip) gives hope to many spinners on the fringe. Bhargav Bhatt is yet another addition in the waiting list.

  • Steve on October 4, 2013, 16:25 GMT

    Along the same lines on Zaheer, any scores by Gambhir and Shewag in the 2nd innings should be discounted as the match most likely would have lost all competitive edge by the time they get to bat, if at all. A meaningless 50-60 means nothing against, say part timers rolling their arms over to kill time. The fact is that they had their chance in 1st innings and they failed to deliver. Period.

  • Steve on October 4, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    First ball duck followed by zero wkts in 2nd innings (thus far) for Zaheer! Amazing how low he has fallen from being leader of attack and someone who scored over 1,000 test runs with 3 50+ scores. Impossible to see how he can be considered for Ind team. He must play at least 10-15 first class matches to know where he stands.

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