Shreyas Iyer and Krishnappa Gowtham stole the limelight with some brilliant batting as India ‘A’ reached 347 for 6 at lunch, in reply to Australia’s first innings score of 469 for 7 declared, on the third and final morning of the warm-up game here today. Iyer, not out 85 last evening, reached his hundred in a jiffy with a flurry of fours off Jackson Bird even as the home team lost two wickets before Gowtham, who was unable to bowl in the Australia innings due to a hamstring injury, hammered off-spinner Nathan Lyon in particular on way to his half century off just 43 balls. At lunch, Iyer was unbeaten on 166, that included 21 fours and 6 sixes and came off 186 balls, while Gowtham bludgeoned his way to 66 off 54 balls and hit four huge sixes off Lyon to banish the off-spinner away from the attack before the break. He also struck eight fours.
India ‘A’ are now 122 runs adrift of the visitors’ first innings total and with two sessions left to go, the match, the lone warm-up for the tourists before the opening Test against India in Pune from February 23, was headed for a tame draw. Iyer took just 10 minutes to reach to his hundred with a flurry of four fours, including three in one over from Bird. He had not faced the tall Aussie pacer at all in reaching 85 last evening but dominated the bowler from the first ball that he took strike against Bird today. He started with a backfoot punch to the off side to the first ball from Bird and then raced to the hundred in the bowler’s second over of the day, hitting him for three fours with the pick being a straight drive.
The hundred, his ninth in 38 first class games and his third of the season, came from 103 balls and contained five sixes and 11 fours. While Iyer continued to bat in forthright manner without any difficulties, the other overnight not out batsman Pant — with whom he added 55 runs for the fifth wicket — struck three fours and then gave a tame return catch when lured out by left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe in the bowler’s first over of the day.
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Next batsman, wicket keeper Ishan Kishan, did not last long as he edged Mitchell Marsh’s fifth ball of the morning to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade with the score reading 234 for 6.
The first hour’s play saw the home team add 63 runs in 15 overs, thanks to Iyer’s brilliant batting. He continued in the same vein later in the company of Gowtham who had limped his way to the crease at the fall of Kishan, but later showed no signs of the hamstring injury he had sustained while fielding as he blasted the Aussie bowlers, Pyon in particular, with clean shots.
Lyon, who took two wickets yesterday, was deprived of his third when Glenn Maxwell dropped Gowtham (14) at deep mid-wicket and allowed the ball to cross the rope too.
After the lucky break, Gowtham struck Lyon for four big sixes, two over long on and two more over the straight field as he and Iyer added 113 runs for the unbroken seventh wicket in just 19.3 overs and 67 minutes.
India ‘A’ added 170 runs in 32 overs, thanks to the attacking batting of first Iyer and then Gowtham.
Lyon gave away 153 runs in 27 overs and must have had his confidence dented a bit ahead of the four-match series opener in Pune. Bird had 2 for 45 while Mitchell Marsh and O’Keefe shared the other two wickets.