With their backs to the wall after conceding a big first innings lead, the top-order faltered again as India ‘A’ scored 267 for 6 against Australia ‘A’ by the end of third day's play in the second unofficial 'Test', in Chennai, on Friday.
Having conceded a 214-run lead, India’s top-order failed to convert starts into big scores. Opener Abhinav Mukund (59), Shreyas Iyer (48) and Virat Kohli (45) were a few notable performers in the second innings of the four-day game at the MA Chidambaram stadium.
The hosts lead by 53 runs in the second innings with four wickets standing and a day's play left in the four-day encounter.
Earlier, the visitors added 20 runs to their overnight score of 329 for nine before left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (4-107) completed the formalities.
The home side, though, fared better than in their first outing, when they were shot out for 135 runs.
Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara (11) failed to inspire the batting after running himself out early, while Kohli worked hard in his 94-ball stay before being cleaned up by a Steve O'Keefe (3-83) turner.
Pujara has himself to blame. He made a late start from the bowling end while Mukund, who made the call for a run, swiftly made ground at the other end.
Karun Nair (31) also departed soon after, scalped by pace spearhead Gurinder Sandhu (1-74) as the Usman Khawaja-led side reduced the hosts to 134 for three.
Mukund and Iyer then stitched a 70-run fourth-wicket partnership to stage some sort of a recovery, but Ashton Agar (1-71) broke the crucial stand after plotting the left-handed opener's fall.
Iyer followed soon when O'Keefe got him cleaned up in the next over.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha (30) then tried to play the rescue act with Baba Aparajith (28 not out) in a 47-run sixth-wicket stand but O'Keefe again broke through.
Ojha struck a six and three fours in his 44-ball stay before giving a leading edge to Khawaja at slip.
Aparajith and Shreyas Gopal (0 not out) are hanging on as the hosts face a tough final day against a side hungry for a victory after a drawing the first game.
India A (1st innings): 135
Australia A (1st innings): (overnight 329 for nine)
Cameron Bancroft c Kohli b Aparajith 150
Usman Khawaja 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 c Kohli b P Ojha 10
Extras: (B-1, LB-8, W-1, NB-5) 15
Total: (all out, 107.5 overs) 349
Fall of wickets: 1-111, 2-123, 3-123, 4-230, 5-258, 6-279, 7-282, 8-320, 9-328, 10-349.
Bowling: Shardul Thakur 11-2-37-0, Varun Aaron 15-5-41-0, Pragyan Ojha 34.5-2-107-4, Baba Aparajith 25-5-86-5, Shreyas Gopal 22-2-69-1.
India A (2nd innings):
Abhinav Mukund c Bancroft b Agar 59
Cheteshwar Pujara run out 11
Virat Kohli b O'Keefe 45
Karun Nair c Khawaja b Sandhu 31
Shreyas Iyer B Stephen O'Keefe 49
Naman Ojha c Khawaja b O'Keefe 30
Baba Aparajith not out 28
Shreyas Gopal not out 0
Extras: (b 7, lb 3, w 1, nb 2) 14
Total: (6 wickets; 83 overs) 267
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-82, 3-134, 4-204, 5-210, 6-257
Bowling: Gurinder Sandhu 18-1-74-1, Andrew Fekete 10-4-14-0, Marcus Stoinis 11-5-12-0, Steve O'Keefe 28-7-53-3, Ashton Agar 16-0-71-1.