BENGALURU: Opener Abhimanyu Easwaran served a timely reminder to the national selectors with a fine hundred but in-form Rajat Patidar’s blazing 170 not out stole the show as India A reached 492 for four against New Zealand A on the third day of the first unofficial Test.
India A led by 92 runs in the first innings with a day’s play left.
Easwaran, whose attacking batting on second evening set the tone, laid the platform with a chiselled 132 off 194 balls before Patidar took it upon himself to punish the New Zealand attack.
Young N T Tilak Varma, who had impressed one and all in T20s for Mumbai Indians, looked equally adept while playing the traditional format as he smashed his way to an unbeaten 82 during an unbroken stand of 167 for the fifth wicket with Patidar.
Almost all the partnerships were significant, but the man who missed out on a good batting deck was Sarfaraz Khan (36), who looked good for a big score. Having added 123 with Priyank Panchal (47) for the opening stand, India lost Ruturaj Gaikwad (21) in the second over of the third morning, when Rachin Ravindra (2/96) got him stumped by keeper Cam Fletcher. However, India A continued to score runs at a fair clip as the Patidar-Easwaran duo added 104 runs in just under 26 overs, at a healthy average of four plus runs per over. Easwaran, whose innings had 13 fours and a six, completed his 16th first-class hundred in the first session, even as Patidar continued to find the ropes.
It was left-arm wrist spinner Michael Rippon (1/101), who finally had the Bengal opener bowled. Sarfaraz hit a flurry of boundaries, five of them, in a stand of 64 with Patidar, but was out before tea as he edged one off pacer Jacob Duffy to keeper Fletcher.
After Patidar and Varma joined forces, the two rising IPL stars showed their wares as their 167 runs came in just under 41 overs.
Patidar has been in dream form since scoring nearly 400 runs in the IPL, followed by a match-winning century in the Ranji Trophy final and now a hundred in his first appearance for India A.
The New Zealand attack got a real pasting with 43 boundaries and 11 sixes being already hit.
While Ravindra was the most economical of the troika of spinners, off-spinner Joe Walker (0/81 in 16 overs) got some punishment as both Patidar (4 sixes) and Varma (5 sixes) took him to the cleaners.
BRIEF SCORES: NZ A 400 vs India A 1st Innings 492/4 (Rajat Patidar 170 batting, Abhimanyu Easwaran 132, NT Tilak Varma 82 batting)