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Chopra, Gambhir shine for India 'A'
February 16, 2003 21:08 IST
When your main men fail you, you look for succour to the bench -- and find Parthiv Patel, Sanjay Bangar and Ajit Agarkar.
No joy there, so you look further into the future, as represented by India A -- now on tour in the West Indies to play in the Carib Beer Cup series of four-day games.
When rain stopped play in the side's second game, against Leeward Islands at Charlestown, Nevis, India had made 164/1 in 47.4 overs, with the left-and-right opening combination from Delhi, Akash Chopra (79) and Gautam Gambhir (74 not out), putting on a 163-run partnership for the first wicket in fine style.
The previous game, against Barbados at Windward Park, however brought little joy -- India were defeated by the massive margin of an innings and 77 runs.
Batting first, India managed just 201 with left arm fast bowler Ian Bradshaw (4/43) and upcoming right arm quick Tino Best (3/54), who has 33 wickets from ten first class games thus far, the wreckers-in-chief.
Gambhir again was the most impressive batsman, scoring a fluent 55 at the top of the order in the first innings. In support were the likes of Ambati Rayudu (40), the right hand middle order batsman from Hyderabad who also bowls off-breaks; and Jai Prakash Yadav (55), the Madhya Pradesh and Railways all-rounder.
Notable among those who did not come to the party was skipper VVS Laxman, who matched a first innings duck with another in the second innings.
In its only innings, Barbados piled up 463, thanks largely to contributions from three West Indies discards.
The old opening firm of Philo Wallace (last seen in action against South Africa at Centurion in 1998-'99) and Sherwin Campbell (who opened for Windies last in Sharjah against Pakistan in the 2001-'02 series) piled up 173 for the first wicket (Campbell 89 lbw Tinu Youhannan; Wallace 90 caught Rayudu bowled Rakesh Patel).
Floyd Reifer, who debuted against Lanka in 1996-'97 and who, like Wallace, has not been seen under the maroon cap since the Centurion Test against South Africa 1998-'99, continued the good work with a century, and Ian Bradshaw followed up his bowling performance with a hard-hit unbeaten 58.
India's bowling performance was indifferent. Rakesh Patel, rated one of the coming players for national honors, went for 120 in just 18 overs, Youhannan managed 2/88 in 26, JP Yadav was tight but ineffective in a spell of 23 overs for a return of 1/62 and Murali Karthik alone made some impression, taking 5/105 in 38.5 overs.
Trailing by 262, India A's second innings was an unmitigated disaster. Akash Chopra made 43 and Gambhir 20 before falling to Best and Bradshaw respectively, but once the openers left, a procession followed comprising the likes of Laxman (0), Hemang Badani (19), Rayudu (27), Yadav (23), Ajay Ratra (8), Murli Karthik (10), Mishra (1), Rakesh Patel (15 not out) and Youhannan (1).
A total score of 185 was an innings and 77 runs less than Barbados had managed -- and again, Best with 5/60 and Bradshaw with 2/51 were the main destroyers.
The performance confirmed that India A, like the national team, were poor travelers and always vulnerable at the start of an away series