India A batsmen’s vulnerability against the red ball in foreign conditions was exposed as England Lions handed the visitors a 254-run defeat in the one-off Unofficial Test on day four on Thursday. India A, who were reeling at 11 for three at stumps on day three while chasing an improbable 421-run target, did not put up much of a fight even in the second innings, folding up for 167 in 44 overs. They had struggled to 197 all out in 66.5 overs in the first essay after Lions made 423.
The sole silver lining for India A was that Ajinkya Rahane and rookie Rishabh Pant got to spend some valuable time in the middle ahead of the five-Test series against England, beginning in Birmingham on August 1.
Pant, who has earned his maiden Test call-up, struck a second successive half-century century to give the Indian team management a selection headache ahead of the first match. India have picked two specialist wicket-keepers in the 18-man squad, including Pant and Dinesh Karthik, who is more likely to feature in the series opener.
The A game served as the warm-up game for the likes of India vice-captain Rahane, opener Murali Vijay, Karun Nair and Pant, who are all part of the Test squad announced yesterday.
Pant made a mark against a potent pace attack comprising four Test players, with a 58 and 61, while Rahane too got to spend some time at the crease, having scored 49 and 48 in the two innings. Nair and Vijay, however, failed in both the innings.
Only a miracle could have saved India A, but that did not happen, as the batting let the team down for the second time in the match.
The writing was on the wall when India A reached 115 for six at lunch. The innings did not last long following the break and the moment Pant perished after a quickfire knock, it was all over for India A.
India A had beaten West Indies A in the preceding two-match series but playing England Lions in their own den turned out to be an eye-opener for the Rahul Dravid-coached side.