Gill, Saxena Star as India A Take Control Against South Africa A

Shubhman Gill and Jalej Saxena strengthened India A’s grip over South Africa A in the first unofficial Test being played at Thiruvananthapuram.

Resuming at 129/2, hosts lost Ankit Bawne early as Marco Jansen (2/39) struck for visitors. However, Gill continued his fine form and looked set for a ton before off-spinner Dan Piedt (3/84) removed the skipper for 90.

Wicket-keeper KS Bharat looked good for his 33 but then India A lost wickets in a heap and were reduced to 199/7. Paceman Lutho Sipamala (2/46) removed Bharat and K.Gowtham in the same over.

All-rounder Shivam Dube didn’t last long either as Lungi Ngidi struck but just when it seemed South Africa A would fight back into the game, Saxena and Shardul Thakur stitched together a 100-run partnership for the eighth wicket.

Saxena struck 11 boundaries while Thakur provided good support and made a solid 34. Ngidi then came back to dismiss Thakur as Saxena ran out of partners at the other and remained unbeaten on 61.

With a 139-run trail, South Africa A needed a solid start to have any hope of fighting back. However, Indian pacers struck early as Siraj and Thakur sent back the Pieter Malan and Aiden Markram for just 4.

Zubayr Hamza then played a vital hand, scoring 44 before the Indian spinners got into action. Shahbhaz Nadeem (2/13) struck twice to send back Khayelihle Zondo and Senuran Muthusamy.

Just when it seemed Hamza had found a partner in Heinrich Klassen, Gowtham struck for India A as Hamza edged one through to the keeper.

Klassen stayed unbeaten on 35 but South Africa A were reduced to 125/5 at stumps and face an uphill task of staying in the game.