India A clinched the three-match ODI series against New Zealand A rather comfortably courtesy an excellent bowling performance followed by a reasonably good batting effort in the 2nd match at Visakhapatnam. And, while India excelled in most departments of the game, New Zealand’s inability to put up a challenging score after batting first cost them the match as well as the series. Only one Kiwi batsman got a half-century, which was a clear indication that they put up a below par batting performance in the game.
Having been put into bat, New Zealand A needed a solid start, but it were the Indian bowlers who did all the talking, utilising the hint of help available early on. Dhawal Kulkarni produced a good delivery to help India get the early breakthrough, sending back Anton Devcich early. This was followed by a decent partnership between Luke Ronchi and Carl Cachopa. However, just when it looked like they were putting New Zealand A in a position from where they could set a fighting total, Ronchi departed. Having got a start and looking good, he would have been disappointed to have gotten dismissed, especially since he is working towards making acomeback into the main squad.
The rest of the New Zealand A innings was about one man against the Indian bowling attack. Cachopa held up one end for the New Zealanders even as the rest of the batting fell apart. What was most disappointing about the Kiwis’ batting performance was the fact that they kept losing wickets at regular intervals, which means their batsmen got in and got out. Tom Latham got 18 while wicketkeeper Andrew Ellis contributed an impressive 34. Significantly though they failed to carry on, which meant Cachopa was left fighting a lone battle. Cachopa batted exceedingly well for his 80, which was the chief reason New Zealand A crossed 200.
As the score suggests, India A’s bowling was of high quality. Ashok Menaria was the surprise factor. His five-for blew away the New Zealanders, and he even contributed in the run out of Latham. Menaria would he highly pleased with his bowling effort. Apart from him, the rest of the bowling attack also chipped in well. Kulkarni got the important breakthroughs early on even as Basant Mohanty and Sandeep Sharma kept things tight while picking up a wicket each.
India were always favourites to clinch the game, and the series, after restricting New Zealand A to 216. And their triumph was rather convincing in the end. Skipper Unmukt Chand and Mandeep Singh came up with fruitful half-centuries. After their departure, the finishing touches were provided by Kedar Jadhav and Menaria. It was a comprehensive win for India A without doubt. If anything, they would have liked either of Chand or Singh to carry on and get bigger scores. All in all, it was an impressive overall performance from India A, making them deserved victors of the series with one match in hand.
--By A Cricket Analyst