India A 216 and 127 for 2 (Panchal 67*, Gil 33*, Rae 1-16) trail New Zealand A 562 for 7 declared (Cleaver 196, Chapman 114, Porel 2-90) by 219 runs
New Zealand A, who won the one-day series 3-2, continued their challenge of India A courtesy their lower-order spunk, recovering from 176 for 6 to 562 for 7 declared. The lead of 346 giving them a cushion to push for an innings victory when play resumes on Sunday, with India A on 127 for 2.
Priyank Panchal, an India A regular, missed out in the first innings but built set himself up nicely and is firmly within grasp of a 24th first-class century. He was 67 not out, while Shubman Gill, who cracked a run-a-ball 83 in the first innings, was more sedate this time around, finishing 33 not out at stumps.
Mayank Agarwal, India's first-choice opener for the two-Test series to follow, bagged a pair, however. Bengal's Abhimanyu Easwaran was dismissed for 26, thereby extending barren run without a half-century for 10 first-class innings. The visitors still trail by 220 runs.
The day completely belonged to Cleaver and Chapman, who dashed India A's hopes of bowling them out cheaply by amassing 268 for the sixth wicket. The stand ended when seam-bowling allrounder Vijay Shankar had Chapman caught by captain Hanuma Vihari in the 133rd over.
The respite was all too brief for India A as Cleaver then added 114 for the seventh wicket with McConchie at a run rate of over four an over. Cleaver, though, fell four shy of a double-hundred in the 160th over and in the next over New Zealand A declared after McConchie reached his fifty.
India A's bowlers toiled hard, with Ishan Porel and Sandeep Warrier coming away with two wickets each. Meanwhile, Siraj, Vijay, and Nadeem picked up one wicket apiece.
Cleaver, Kane Williamson's cousin, had managed only 139 runs in six innings in the Plunket Shield, but his return to form bodes well for New Zealand A as well as Central Districts. Cleaver had also been in the thick of the action on the opening day, when he snaffled a ricochet off short-leg fielder Rachin Ravindra to send back Vihari for 51 in bizarre fashion.