Juneja steadies India ‘A’

Juneja steadies India ‘A’

Manprit Juneja pulling a ball to the long on fence during his unbeaten knock of 178 against New Zealand 'A' at Dr Y S Rajashekara Reddy ACA-VDCA...

Manprit Juneja pulling a ball to the long on fence during his unbeaten knock of 178 against New Zealand 'A' at Dr Y S Rajashekara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

A 197-run partnership for the third wicket between Manprit Juneja and V A Jagdeesh saw India ‘A’ cross the 400-run mark at the fag-end of the third day at the Dr YS Rajashekara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket stadium here on Wednesday.

On a surface that didn’t deteriorate as much as New Zealand ‘A’ would have hoped, Juneja stamped his class with an authoritative century as India ended the day at 408 for 7. They trail New Zealand by 29 runs. Juneja, playing only his 12th first-class match, batted through the day to remain unbeaten on 178. He joined hands with Jagadeesh (91), the Kerala opener, in a fine exhibition of batting in the first session that set the tone for the day.
Juneja’s composure and Jagadeesh’s determination ensured New Zealand were left searching for options in muggy conditions. Jagadeesh brought out a different dimension to his game, playing more freely against the pacers, unlike on Tuesday, where he was content offering a dead bat. At one stage, Jagadeesh even matched Juneja stroke-to-stroke as New Zealand quickly went on the defensive by adopting a negative line. Jagadeesh wasn’t always fluent, but his willingness to put a price on his wicket was admirable. He played on the bowlers’ patience, and as they lost sting on a sapping morning, accumulated runs to race into the 90s.
While Juneja breezed through to a century, nervousness got the better of Jagadeesh on 91. Doug Bracewell, brought into the attack for a ten-minute burst before lunch, struck straightaway by knocking over Jagadeesh’s leg stump with a delivery that nipped back in sharply.
After lunch, the pace of the game picked up as Abhishek Nayar, counter-attacked by repeatedly piercing the offside field against Todd Astle and Ish Sodhi, even as Juneja suddenly struggled for timing. Nayar raced away to a fifty off just 47 balls with seven fours and a six, forcing Tom Latham to take the second new ball.
That move worked straightaway as Bracewell broke the 88-run stand by dismissing Nayar (57), who played on while trying to force a length ball through the off side. A few minutes later, CM Gautam (1) hung his bat out to a delivery angling away to be caught behind by Luke Ronchi as India slipped from a comfortable 301 for 3 to 304 for 5.
With wickets tumbling at the other end, Juneja was forced to take more of the strike. Jalaj Saxena (20) and Shrikant Wagh (19) didn’t stay for too long as the match quickly turned into a battle for the first-innings lead. But Dhawal Kulkarni then lent able support to Juneja as India hung on till the close of play.
Brief scores: India ‘A’ (First innings) 408/7 (V A Jagadeesh 91, Manprit Juneja 178 no, Abhishek Nayar 57, Doug Bracewell 3/75, Todd Astle 2/96) vs New Zealand ‘A’ 437.
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