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'We played risk-free cricket' - Gurkeerat

Gurkeerat Singh, whose unbeaten 87 gave India A a four-wicket win in the final, said he decided to not look at the scoreboard and avoid extravagant strokes

Gurkeerat Singh takes the aerial route, India v Australia, A-team tri-series, final, Chennai, August 14, 2015

Gurkeerat Singh said with the required rate less than four the focus was on not losing wickets  •  K Sivaraman

Gurkeerat Singh had not batted in the A-team tri-series until he walked out with India A on 82 for 4. The target - 227 - wasn't too demanding, but the Australia A bowling was. When the 30th over began there were only four wickets left, 84 runs to get and he was one of the last two specialist batsmen left. The visitors sensed a chance and tried to take the most of it. Samson copped a few verbals, the umpires had to intervene and a large Chennai crowd were adding to the occasion as well.
A tight low-scoring game was on the cards and Gurkeerat ensured his team came out the winner by dumbing the game down to the basics. "We just decided not to look at the scoreboard and just play on the merit of the ball. We didn't try anything extravagant," he said. "We just wanted to rotate the strike. Maybe three runs an over [was what we were looking at] because the run-rate was only four runs an over and if we get a boundary it was easy for us. So we just concentrated on that and didn't want to throw our wickets away. We just played some risk-free cricket."
Gurkeerat has had experience steering chases before. His unbeaten 87 today was the third time he has scored a fifty during a match-winning chase in List A cricket. An overall average of 47.40 with 10 fifties as a lower-middle order batsman suggests he is capable of more. The Australia A captain Usman Khawaja also picked out Gurkeerat as the major roadblock his bowlers faced.
"They batted well," Khawaja said. "They got a little partnership going. Gurkeerat got 87 runs and he steered the innings. If he hadn't got 87 runs we would've won. If we'd got him out and got the tail in early, then it could have been a different game but we just couldn't get him out."
But the bigger cause for their defeat - their first on this tour to India - was the lack of runs on the board. "The wicket was up and down a little bit, but it wasn't turning massive. If we'd had a few more runs we could have strangled them on that kind of wicket. But it's sometimes hard to take wickets on that kind of a wicket when you know you only had to go at three or four runs an over. They didn't have too much pressure on them."
There were enough gains though. Australia A handled slow and low wickets quite well and Khawaja was especially pleased with the team's performance in the two unofficial Tests. "We outplayed India A in just about both games and we take a lot out of that. It's a learning experience for everyone here. We've got some young players, young bowlers, young batsmen. The more they can get into these conditions and learn how to score runs and take wickets the better it is for us. Hopefully when the big Australian team comes back, some of us come back with them and look better for it."
On a personal note, he was disappointed at not being picked for the Australian ODI team despite a good run of form recently. "I thought I was next in line," he said. "But I don't pick the team. That's cricket. It happens.
"I played some pretty good cricket in Australia. Last couple of one-day series, I was the leading run-scorer over there. And I performed well over here, but unfortunately that still wasn't enough to get in the one-day side. I had a tough day or two after the decision, but I'm fine now and I'm looking forward to going home and playing some more cricket."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo