February 17, 2003

India A batsmen shine against Leeward Islands

Staff Reporter

After losing by an innings and 77 runs to Barbados in their opening match of the Carib Beer Cup, India 'A' bounced back in their second game, thanks largely to their batsmen, who saw them to a first-innings total of 450.

Although the game is unlikely to be won by the tourists, who batted two whole days out of four, the runs are likely to boost confidence in the batting line-up ahead of the four games remaining before the semi-finals.

Leeward Islands, surprisingly, asked India 'A' to take first strike at Grove Park, Charlestown, Nevis. They would have regretted their decision at the end of the first day, when their rivals reached 164 for one after rain interrupted play several times and finally ended it with only 47.4 overs bowled.

The position was due in large part to openers Gautam Gambhir and Akash Chopra. Chopra hit 79 and was the first wicket to fall, caught behind off fast bowler Carl Simon. Gambhir continued into the second day with Connor Williams for company and was unlucky to miss out on his century, bowled by Adam Sanford for 98.

Captain VVS Laxman, who made a duck in both innings against Barbados, did not do much better here, managing just four. When he fell, shortly after Williams did for 41, India 'A' looked to have squandered the advantage. But young tyro Ambati Rayudu hit up 84 of the best and brightest, and Abhijit Kale made 80, holding the lower middle order together.

India 'A' were bowled out for 450, made in 139.5 overs, towards the end of the second - also rain-interrupted - day. For Leeward Islands, Simon and offie Omari Banks picked three wickets apiece.