India A 283 for 4 (Rahane 91, Pant 59, Jackson 59) beat England XI 282 (Bairstow 64, Hales 51, Rasool 3-38) by six wickets
Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina came into the second practice match needing a decent hit in the middle ahead of the limited-overs series against England. By the end of the match, they had the satisfaction of playing substantial knocks that helped India A saunter to a six-wicket victory over England XI with 10.2 overs to spare. While captain Rahane's 83-ball 91 set the base for India A's chase, Raina dashed to 45 off 34 before being dismissed with the game nearly in the bag.
Meanwhile, Rishabh Pant, who has earned his maiden national call-up for the T20Is against England, has had no shortage of hitting time: he followed up his unbeaten 32-ball 84 in a club game two days ago with a nerveless 59 off 36 balls to rattle England XI, who underachieved with the bat.
England squandered a strong start to collapse from 115 for 1 to 211 for 9 before a 71-run alliance between Adil Rashid and David Willey ensured they came close to playing out 50 overs. It wasn't always reckless batting, however, as India A's spinners Parvez Rasool and Shahbaz Nadeem and seamer Ashok Dinda bowled stifling spells to claim seven wickets between them on a pitch Jonny Bairstow described as two-paced with some lateral movement.
That Rahane was playing his first competitive game in two months - he missed the last two Tests against England with a finger injury - wasn't apparent given the free-stroking rhythm he was in. He played out a maiden and wasn't off the mark until the 10th delivery, but once he produced his patented straight drive to Willey in the fourth over, the floodgates opened. A serious of drives, pulls and cuts - one square cut off Jake Ball went screeching over point for a six - followed, and his opening partner Sheldon Jackson did not hold back either.
Both batsmen reached their half-centuries in successive overs, and had put on 119 when Jackson lofted Moeen Ali to Bairstow at long-on. Pant jumped out of his crease to the first ball he faced and failed to connect with an extravagant swish. Despite that, Pant was not going to modify his game much: he began with a powerful sweep and then launched furious strikes down the ground against Liam Plunkett and Ball.
In the 27th over, Pant brought up his 50 off 32 balls with a string of searing boundaries: he lofted the first one over mid-on for four and upper-cut the next ball before slamming the third one for a ferocious pull. In the next over, Pant carted Rashid over long-on for six, but his attempted encore off the next delivery landed in the palms of the fielder, Alex Hales. The innings completed a good day for Pant, who also kept solidly to pouch four catches.
Raina, who last played a competitive limited-overs fixture in May, spent quite a bit of time as acting captain in the morning after Rahane was off the field. He walked out to bat appearing chubbier than his usual self, but that didn't come in the way of his inside-out tonks to the spinner or the slog over mid-wicket. Not long after Rahane was dismissed - he was bowled by Willey after he shuffled too much to expose his leg stump - Raina holed out in the deep. By that time, though, India A were only 15 shy of the target.
England XI's morning began well as they won their second consecutive toss, and they decided to test their ability to defend a total. Like in the first game, Alex Hales and Jason Roy provided a zippy burst at the top. After Roy was hit wicket in the fifth over - an unusual dismissal in that the stemguard on Roy's helmet detached and dislodged a bail - Hales and Jonny Bairstow, who replaced Sam Billings in the XI, settled in with crisp drives, and forceful pulls and cuts.
With the seamers bleeding runs, Rahane turned to left-arm spinner Nadeem, the highest wicket-taker in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy. Nadeem wasn't easy to take runs off - he bowled at the stumps, varied his pace well and threatened both the edges. The wicket-taking opportunity, though, came at the other end when Hales, on 46, drove one powerfully at the direction of Vinay Kumar, who couldn't latch on to a tough return catch.
Nadeem, however, covered up for the lapse with wickets in successive overs. First, he removed Hales in the 17th over after the batsman clipped the ball to Rahane at short mid-wicket, and then sent back captain Eoin Morgan for a first-ball duck. It was a soft dismissal: Nadeem bowled a slow, loopy delivery and Morgan lobbed a feeble shot back to the bowler. At the other end, offspinner Rasool was introduced in the 20th over and he bowled 10 overs on the trot to pick up three wickets for 38 runs.
Bairstow and Ben Stokes counter-attacked but England's sprint was scuppered by a three-over spell from Ashok Dinda. He forced Bairstow to edge one behind off the last ball of the 27th over, and was on a hat-trick after dismissing Moeen Ali in similar fashion with the first ball of his next over. Buttler was out for a golden duck after being caught and bowled by Rasool, who then went on to snare Chris Woakes and Stokes in consecutive overs. The last-wicket pair of Rashid and Willey heaved and hoicked to give England a decent total, which would eventually prove inadequate.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun