India 'A' off-spinner Baba Aparajith struck late to claim five wickets, but it was opener Cameron Bancroft's strokeful 150 that powered Australia ‘A’ to a crucial first innings lead on Day 2 of the second four-day unofficial cricket 'Test' in Chennai on Thursday.
Replying to the Indians’ 135 in the first innings, the Australians rode on Bancroft's fourth first-class century to post 329 for nine at stumps and take a healthy 194-run lead.
Sharing a 111-run opening partnership with skipper Usman Khawaja (33), Bancroft gave the visitors a solid start as he stitched another crucial 107-run fourth wicket stand with Callum Ferguson (54).
But the hard-working Indian spinners then made inroads to check the Australian middle-order batsmen from converting starts into bigger scores.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (3-99) and off-spinner Aparajith (5-74) shared eight wickets apiece to give the hosts some hope at the end of the day.
The Indian fielding, though, was way below par as Aparajith and India Test captain Virat Kohli floored two chances to give Feguson a longer stay at the crease.
Ferguson, who was dropped on 14 and 25, went on to register a crucial half-century. On both the occasions, Shreyas Gopal (1-69) was the bowler to suffer.
At close, Stephen O'Keefe (6) and Andrewe Fekete (0) were at the crease.
Bancroft was the star performer of the day with a patient 267-ball knock, laced with 16 fours and a six. It is because of him that Australia are in a comfortable position.
The manner in which he paced his innings spoke lots about his patience while six wickets fell at the other end.
When the Australians resumed their innings on Thursday morning, overnight batsmen Bancroft and Khawaja held fort. Ojha's hard work paid off after he trapped Khawaja LBW, and then claimed two more scalps in his next over.
India A (1st innings): 135
Australia A (1st innings) (overnight 43 for no loss)
Cameroon Bancroft c Kohli b Aparajith 150
Usman Khajawa lbw P Ojha 33
Joe Burns c Mukund b P Ojha 8
Peter Handscomb c Kohli b P Ojha 0
Callum Ferguson c Nair b Gopal 54
Marcus Stoinis st N Ojha b Aparajith 10
Matthew Wade b Aparajith 11
Stephen O'Keefe not out 6
Gurinder Sandhu st N Ojha b Aparajith 36
Ashton Agar b Aparajith 6
Andrew Fekete not out 0
Extras: (B-1, LB-8, W-1, NB-5) 15
Total: (for 9 wkts; 103 overs) 329
Fall of wickets: 1-111, 2-123, 3-123, 4-230, 5-258, 6-279, 7-282, 8-320, 9-328.
Bowling: Shardul Thakur 11-2-37-0, Varun Aaron 14-5-40-0, Pragyan Ojha 32-2-99-3, Baba Aparajith 23-3-74-5, Shreyas Gopal 22-2-69-1.
Image: Cameron Bancroft.
Photograph: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images