India A 204 (Iyer 49, Rayudu 46, Piedt 5-85) and 73 for 2 (Mukund 32*) need another 371 runs to beat South Africa A 542 and 105 for 1 dec (Hendricks 61)
India's failings against spin will have further air time after the A team was bundled out for 204, having begun the day at 122 for 3, by Dane Piedt. He picked up 5 for 85 with his offbreaks to greatly enhance South Africa A's chances of victory. Then to pile on the misery, opening batsman Reeza Hendricks made a quickfire half-century to set up a target of 444. At stumps on the third day, the hosts were two down and adrift by 371 runs.
Abhinav Mukund and captain Ambati Rayudu were able to offer some resistance the second time around. Both men were forced to play time - they got together in the 11th over with another 17 remaining to stumps - and hence came away with strike-rates well below 40. Mukund, the opener, had 32 off 87 balls and Rayudu was content with 13 from 58.
That kind of stubbornness was mighty scarce in the first innings. There wasn't a single fifty-plus score - when South Africa A had amassed five of them to set up their 542 - and five single-digit scores. And Piedt was the central cause. He ran through the lower-middle order, dismissing Karun Nair for 9, Ankush Bains for 5 and Axar Patel for 12 to complete his 11th first-class five-wicket haul. India A lost their last seven wickets for 57 and were all out for 204. Considering they were a mammoth 338 runs away from South Africa A, the hosts were in danger of being asked to follow on. But it wasn't enforced.
Hendricks came out and had a merry old bash - 61 off 69 balls, with 10 fours and a six. His dismissal in the 28th over left South Africa A at 95 for 1. But instead of the acceleration continuing, South Africa A added only 10 runs in seven overs before captain Dane Vilas made the declaration.
India A made as bad a start as possible, especially faced with a target of 444, with Jiwanjot Singh run out in the third over. Piedt was the man again causing problems. Then left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj cut Bains, promoted to No. 3, short at 27 off 25 balls. Stability returned after that for India A, and it will need to continue since South Africa A are well on top. They have an entire day tomorrow to take the remaining eight wickets for victory.