Visakhapatnam, September 12; India A completed a clean sweep in the one-dayers over New Zealand A though they faced much stiffer competition in the final game after the visitors put up 290. India A were in trouble during the chase at 79 for 4 before quick half-centuries from Ashok Menaria and Kedar Jadhav, and a calm cameo from Mandeep Singh helped pull off a tight two-wicket win.
India have hardly been troubled in the previous two games, as their solid top order set up comfortable chases, but this time a rejigged order didn’t provide a strong start. Unmukt Chand, who hit half-centuries in both previous matches, and Sanju Samson fell attempting the ramp shot, before Robin Uthappa and Sachin Baby were dismissed in the space of four deliveries.
The required rate was touching seven at that stage, before the spinners allowed India back into the chase. Menaria clubbed three sixes and a four off a wayward over from legspinner Todd Astle and Jadhav hit two sixes and two fours off the other legspinner Ish Sodhi as 66 runs came in six overs. Menaria needed only 26 balls for his fifty, while Jadhav was a bit more watchful, taking 53 deliveries.
At 207 for 4 after 37 overs, India were in control of the chase. Scott Kuggeleijn, though, put New Zealand ahead with a double-wicket maiden, removing both the set batsmen. It was left to Mandeep, batting at an unfamiliar No. 7 position, to ensure the clean sweep, helped by crucial contributions from Jalaj Saxena and Rahul Sharma. Things were so tense that words were exchanged between Rahul and Mark Gillespie after the pair collided when the former took off for a run.
With three overs to go, and only three wickets remaining, India still needed 25, but Kuggeleijn undid his earlier good work by leaking 18 off the over. “My aim was to bat till the end,” Mandeep said after finishing unbeaten on 37. “One good over could change the whole scenario, I was waiting for that over.”
India were made to work so hard for the win due to a solid effort from New Zealand’s batsmen. Luke Ronchi got a duck, but Carl Cachopa was the only other batsman in the top five to miss out on a half-century. Anton Devcich completed a successful tour by top scoring with 66, while the youngsters Corey Anderson and Tom Latham also helped themselves to fifties. It still wasn’t enough to prevent a second-string India A team from winning 3-0.
India A 291 for 8 (Menaria 69, Jadhav 57, Gillespie 3-43) beat New Zealand A 290 for 9 (Devcich 66, Anderson 59, Latham 53) by 2 wickets