Wayanad (Kerala): After putting up a gritty effort in the opening game, a determined India A will look to press hard for victory when they take on South Africa A in the second and final unofficial 'Test' here today.
Karun Nair. Pic/Suresh KK
Courtesy Karun Nair's dogged century, India A batted the entire final day to save the first 'Test'. But with the talented Karnataka batsman off to Sri Lanka on national duty, the onus will be on young Baba Aparajith to take more responsibility as Ambati Rayudu's boys take on a spirited Proteas side led by Dane Vilas.
In the three unofficial 'Tests' (two vs Australia A and one vs SA A) that India A team has played so far, their batting has not been upto the mark and that is something that coach Rahul Dravid must have taken note of. Nair's absence will however be felt but it will be upto the likes of Jiwanjot Singh, skipper Rayudu, seasoned Abhinav Mukund and rookie Shreyas Iyer to help the team get a big total.
The possibility of Aparajith playing is more as he can also bowl handy off-breaks. He had a five-for in his previous India A appearance against Australia A at Chepauk.
Leg-spinner Karn Sharma, who is waiting in the wings, is likely to get an opportunity in place of off-spinner Jayant Yadav, who went for a few runs in the previous game.
Mumbai medium pacer Shardul Thakur might also get a look-in if the team management decides to drop one among the two new ball bowlers Abhimanyu Mithun and Ishwar Chand Pandey. All eyes will also be on Mumbai youngsters Iyer, who has got starts in almost all the four-day games but have failed to convert any one of them.
Against Australia A, his sequence of scores were 39, 33, 49 and 1 while he also got out on 49 against South Africa A. Iyer would like to curb his impetuosity but since this is the last 'A' series match of the season, the possibility of trying out Saurashtra batsman Sheldon Jackson is also there.
For South Africa, their international Quinton de Kock has been in red hot form throughout all formats while Omphile Ramela, Temba Bavuma and skipper Vilas have all been amongst runs. Among the bowlers, the one to watch out for is their off-spinner Dane Piedt, who got a five-for in the last game.
India A squad: Ambati Rayudu (capt), Abhinav Mukund, Ankush Bains, Shreyas Iyer, Baba Aparajith, Vijay Shankar, Jayant Yadav, Axar Patel, Karn Sharma, Abhimanyu Mithun, Shardul Thakur, Ishwar Pandey, Sheldon Jackson, Jiwanjot Singh.
South Africa A squad: Dane Vilas (capt), Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Gihahn Cloete, Theunis de Bruyn, Marchant de Lange, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Dane Paterson, Dane Piedt, Omphile Ramela, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Stiaan van Zyl, Hardus Viljoen, David Wiese.