India A v WI A, 3rd unofficial Test, Hubli, 4th day October 12, 2013

Zaheer four-for helps secure innings win


India A 564 for 9 dec (Pujara 306*, Gambhir 123) beat West Indies A 268 and 242 (Deonarine 99, Zaheer 4-59) by an innings and 54 runs

Narsingh Deonarine resisted India A with a plucky 99 but the bowlers burst through to deliver a series-levelling innings win. Abhishek Nayar, that champion in domestic cricket, provided the only two wickets in the first session, ending an 82-run stand between Deonarine and Assad Fudadin. Deonarine's vigil continued, in the company of Nikita Miller, until Zaheer Khan produced what seemed a magic delivery. With Jahmar Hamilton injured and unavailable to bat, the loss of the last four wickets for eight runs signalled the end of the match minutes after the afternoon drinks break.

West Indies A began the day with seven wickets in hand and needing 180 to make India A bat again. Deonarine and Fudadin seemed largely comfortable and even a longer-than-usual six-over first spell from Zaheer didn't bring India any success. Then, Cheteshwar Pujara did what Mumbai captains often do at such times: get Nayar to bowl. And Nayar did what he does: bowl wide outside off, play on the batsman's patience, and somehow the batsman follows one. Fudadin committed the mistake this time, edging to the keeper on 49.

Jonathan Carter, who had injured himself when filling in for the keeper Hamilton, came in to bat at No. 6, but fell to a special Nayar delivery. It was short of a length, from round the stumps, pitched middle and off, beat the outside edge as it held its line, and sent the off stump cartwheeling.

Deonarine looked assured in his effort, not going after wide deliveries, driving and cutting the loose ones, while Miller gave him good support. The two went to lunch having put up a reassuring stand. After lunch, too, they carried on. Dhawal Kulkarni seemed to have taken Deonarine's edge when he was on 94, but he had overstepped. It was the last over of his spell.

On came Zaheer, fitter, slowly raising his intensity after his first-class comeback in the previous match in Shimoga. In his second over, he pitched one on a length, seemingly angling in, enough to make Deonarine look to play to midwicket. However, he ended up losing his off stump. It had all the indications of the Zaheer legcutter, which leaves the left-hand batsmen.

With Deonarine gone, and one-and-a-half sessions to bat out, those who were fighting their natural attacking instincts let themselves go. And thus began a procession. Miller stepped out to Bhargav Bhatt and gave an easy catch to mid-off. Ashley Nurse pushed forward to Zaheer and lost his off stump. Miguel Cummins tried to swing hard at a few, and lost his off stump a ball after he had hit Zaheer for four. With so much time left in the day, it wouldn't have been wise for Hamilton to further risk his injured hand.

West Indies A won the one-day series 2-1, lost the one-off T20, took the lead in the first-class series through their spinners, but couldn't hold on to it.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashok on October 12, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    The fate of this unofficial test was sealed after Pujara's brilliant innings of 306*. What a knock it was, mainly in the company of tail enders after his first Century. More over playing for nearly 10 hours after fielding for a day is a feat in endurance & fitness in itself. Pujara has stamped his class once more. After taking such a beating, WI needed lot of heart to get back in the game. But playing for 4 sessions is not that simple. ZAK showed glimpses of his class, by dismissing Deonarine with a peach of a delivery! This set the stage for 4 dismissals for 8 runs which concluded with Game, Set & Match. In the process India tied the series 1-1. Nayar once again captured 2 wickets to add to his 4 wkt. tally in the first innings. Pujara handled his limited bowling very well - even motivating ZAK to a 4 wkt. tally. Hopefully this is a start for ZAK on his road to fitness & form. His efforts in France seem to be paying dividends but at his age, he has to climb steadily. Congrats India!

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    India needs to do with Zaheer what Ozs do with Ryan Harris.. manage his workload... a fit zaheer khan can still deliver test victories for India overseas

  • Al on October 12, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Zaheer and Bhuvi should form the backbone of India's pace bowling for the next year or so in Test matches. For a third pace,r we can try Ishwar, Shami, or Sandeep Sharma. Please, no more Ishant Sharma or Vinay Kumar for Tests. Let them play ODI and T20.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 13:11 GMT

    Richard Anderson posted a very balanced view. His prescription to Zak for a gradual re-entry, if at all possible, is equally applicable for Gambhir too; though reasoning may differ. But nice to see both back in some form. More importantly, build up of more focus and intensity. Both seem to be making serious efforts. Hope, both will resist the addictions of recent years, which possibly put paid their future. One, loosening up the pressure valve a bit! The other, chasing the outgoing balls! Both problems had become addictions; not just mistakes!

    But, the third on the trail of a possible comeback trial, Veeru will be Veeru, whether you give him Slot 1, Slot 4, or any other Slot! That was OK, in those days when we didn't have young players with fire in the belly, like a Kohli or a Dhawan. A few more like them are in the queue. But, Veeru's axiom, that "that's the way I play " would not work any more.

  • Reji on October 12, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    A fit Zak would mean a lot to indian's bowling fortunes. i would not go overboard and say that he is ready to international cricket again, but to know that the fire is there is a good beginning. if he has ever thought about his legacy he should realize the fact that this could be his last opportunity to make the indian team and so focus on the basis, give importance to fitness and as and when he gets a call back to the indian team have the desire to keep performing and if he chooses to say goodbye do it on his own terms rather than get dropped. i hope this french stint atleast teaches him that talent can get you only so far and at the international level fitness is a pre-requisite and not an option.

  • Sachin on October 12, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    Well Zaheer needs to come back in India team and should Play only in selective matches to keep him injury free, till he get backs to full match fitness. Zaheer should only conc on test for next 6 months and after that once the england tour is over next year he should be drafted in ODI and the best platform to retire to him will be in the world tournament in Australia.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 11:01 GMT

    nice to see zak back in form

  • Salil on October 12, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    I think the stars of this match were Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni and Pujara. Somewhat also Zaheer Khan. The first innings set the tone of the match. After getting WI out on the first day and that massive lead, they were always going to be under pressure in the second innings. Hopefully at least now the selectors will give Abhishek Nayar a chance.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    very nice bowling zaheer i wishing you a very quick entry into the india

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    today is a zaheer khans very nice come on zach come on

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