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Shankar, Iyer steer India A home in high-scoring slugfest

Vijay Shankar attempts a run out AFP

India A 311 for 6 (Shankar 87*, Iyer 54, Bennett 2-65) beat New Zealand A 308 for 6 (Neesham 79*, Rutherford 70, Kaul 2-74) by four wickets

In a 619-run slugfest in Mount Maunganui, Vijay Shankar's unbeaten 87 and his 116-run fifth-wicket stand with Ishan Kishan steered India A to victory with an over to spare. Shankar's 80-ball innings, coupled with Kishan's 47 and a half-century from Shreyas Iyer, were the highlights of a chase of 309 under lights, with five of India A's top six going past 35.

India A got off to a solid start, thanks to a 61-run opening partnership between Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill, who then fell three overs within each other. Manish Pandey, the captain, then added 85 with Iyer, who made a run-a-ball 54 in his first game on tour. Then, with India A 158 for 2 in the 26th over, the pair fell in the space of three balls to Hamish Bennett's pace.

The onus of rebuilding the innings fell on Kishan and Shankar, who proceeded to make his third 60-plus score on tour, having previously scored 62 and 71 in the two unofficial Tests he got the opportunity to bat in. Shankar hammered 12 fours and a six in his 80-ball innings. Lockie Ferguson removed Kishan in the 43rd over with India A still needing 33. India A lost their No. 7 Krunal Pandya cheaply, but Shankar dug his heels in and ensured the visitors took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

New Zealand A will, however, take heart from the fact that three of their batsmen notched up fifties after India A put them in. Openers Hamish Rutherford and George Worker added 83, before wicketkeeper Tim Seifert and James Neesham put on 82 for the fifth wicket. Rutherford's 70 and Neesham's 79 blunted an Indian attack in which only Shankar (4-0-12-0) conceded less than five an over. The most expensive of the bowlers was Siddarth Kaul, whose two wickets came at the cost of 74 runs off 10 overs as New Zealand A finished with 308 for 6.