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Pant, Thakur Star as India A Ease Past England Lions for 4-0 Lead

The returning KL Rahul found some form, scoring 42 as India A breezed to a 6-wicket win at Thiruvananthapuram.

Updated
Cricket
2 min read
File pictures of Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur.
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It’s a great week to be an Indian cricket team. Any Indian cricket team.

Even as the senior women’s and men’s teams dominate in New Zealand, the India A side has continued its own unbeaten streak by going 4-0 in their five-match unofficial ODI series against England Lions with another convincing display at Thiruvananthapuram.

Despite making eight changes to the team that had wrapped up the series in the third game on Sunday, 27 January, India A remained a few notches above their hapless opponents.

The changes didn’t really mean a ‘lesser’ team for the hosts, as among those drafted in to the XI were Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur – both of whom excelled in their respective disciplines.

Thakur took 4/49 as the Lions were held to 221/8 after batting first, before Pant polished off the chase with an unbeaten 73 as India A won by six wickets.

There were changes across the board as India A decided to give a look-in to as many Team India hopefuls with two games left in the series. Five of the top-six from the previous match sat out, including captain Ajinkya Rahane. The bowling, too, wore a different look with Axar Patel, Deepak Chahar and Siddarth Kaul out of the mix.

But the visiting English side’s decision to bat backfired. Thakur struck twice in his opening spell, and the Lions were reduced to 55/4 in the 15th over. It took half-centuries from Ollie Pope and Steven Mullaney, batting at number six and seven, to bring some respectability to the total.

Thakur’s four-for aside, Avesh Khan (1/21) and leg-spinner Rahul Chahar (2/38) were among the wickets for India A.

Despite a first-ball duck for opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, the hosts’ run-chase got off to a confident start.

KL Rahul, making only his second appearance, patiently batted his way towards form by scoring 42 off 77 balls, a knock comprising two fours and two sixes.

A brief stutter saw India A stumble to 102/4 in the 28th over, but an unbroken 120-run stand for the fifth wicket between Pant and Deepak Hooda comfortably took the team to their 222-run target with 21 balls to spare.

Pant slammed six fours and three sixes in his 76-ball 73, while Hooda’s run-a-ball 47 was aided by two fours and two sixes.

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Brief Scores: India A 222/4 in 46.3 overs (R Pant 73*, D Hooda 47*, W Jacks 2/35) beat England Lions 221/8 (O Pope 65, S Mullaney 58*, S Thakur 4/49) by 6 wickets.

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