India A defeated Bangladesh A 1-0 in the four-day two-match unofficial Test series. Here is what we learned from the encounter.
India A enjoyed much the better of the series, dominating both games. They bowled out Bangladesh A for 252 and 187 in the second Test, racking up 562-9 to win by an innings, but were denied a clean-sweep by Zakir Hasan’s mammoth rearguard. The opener batted for over 10 hours in the opening game to salvage a draw after the Tigers had been skittled for 112.
Sarfaraz Khan fails to fire
Sarfaraz Khan, who has set the first-class scene on fire with nine hundreds in his last 14 innings, was unable to continue his run against Bangladesh, scoring 21 in two games. Although he batted only twice, Sarfaraz failed to cash in when most of his other teammates left a good account of themselves. He was out leg before by Taijul Islam in the first innings of the first Test, for 21, in a team score of 465-05 declared, and then departed for a duck in the next game, in an innings where six India A players reached their respective fifties.
Sarfaraz, whose domestic exploits made him a strong contender to make the senior team, only has 31 first-class matches under his experience, of which 27 have been at home. He played in South Africa last year and impressed with an unbeaten 71 in the second unofficial Test, but his failures in Bangladesh could force the management to delay his international call-up, giving him more chances to hone his skills in the A circuit for a while instead.
Abhimanyu Easwaran continues to churn
Rohit Sharma has been ruled out of the Bangladesh Tests after dislocating his thumb, and Easwaran is a strong contender to not only get a call-up but also make his debut in the first Test. His recent form works in his favour. On the A tour against Bangladesh, the Bengal opener struck a fine 141 in the first innings, laying the foundation for a competitive total. He joined hands with youngster Yashasvi Jaiswal, as the duo stitched together 283 runs for the first wicket. Easwaran bettered his performance in the second Test, scoring 157 at a quicker rate.
The captain for the tour, Easwaran has played 78 first-class games and averages a little over 45. He has four fifty-plus scores in a row across formats, including three successive hundreds, and has a good game against both spin and pace. He can play all around the ground, is a good front-foot player and his recent form could work in his favour as India look for Rohit’s replacement.
India’s big names have a quiet outing
Four international players were picked for the India A tour, seemingly to give them match practice ahead of the senior team’s Test series against Bangladesh – Umesh Yadav, Cheteshwar Pujara, Navdeep Saini and Jayant Yadav.
Pujara, who played one game in the series, made 52 in the second Test, but his knock lacked much fluency, as he stuck around for 124 balls, striking at 41.93. Umesh grabbed four wickets in the sole game that he played but lost incision as the innings progressed, allowing batters to take easy singles off him.
Spinner Jayant Yadav’s outing were less than memorable, as he grabbed three scalps in the series at an average of 76.33, taking just one wicket as Hasan kept India at bay with one wicket left to get. He, along with Umesh, was one of the two most expensive bowlers for India A, with Jayant also ending with a bowling strike rate of 170. Saini, who last played a Test for India at Gabba in 2021, was a standout, picking up six wickets in two games whilst also making an unbeaten 50 off 68 deliveries in the second game.
However, overall, the senior players left much to be desired with their showings.
Saurabh Kumar and Mukesh Kumar give a good account
Saurabh Kumar was picked for India’s series against Sri Lanka this year, after being in the extended squad against England in 2021. The slow left-arm orthodox bowler has been turning heads in the domestic circuit, picking up 237 wickets in 94 matches, with a strike rate of 52.8. The Uttar Pradesh bowler has 12 four-fors and 19 five-wicket hauls, and he continued his run against Bangladesh A as well, ending with 15 of the 39 wickets to fall. No other bowler picked up more than 10 scalps from his side.
Saurabh, who ended with 4-23, 5-63, 0-57 and 6-74 in the series, also scored 55 in the second Test. Overall, he has two hundreds and 11 fifties in his first-class career thus far, and he could be given a go against Bangladesh as the injured Ravindra Jadeja’s replacement.
Mukesh Kumar, Bengal’s right-arm seam bowler, has had a dream start to his professional career. The 33-match-old Mukesh averages 21.49 with the ball and was the sixth-highest wicket-taker in the last season of the Ranji Trophy, with 20 wickets in five games. He also got a five-for against New Zealand A earlier this year. Mukesh continued his form against Bangladesh A, with nine wickets at an average of 13.22, and remains a player to watch out for.
Zakir Hasan is a player to watch
While India dominated the series, the standout individual performance came from Bangladesh, with Zakir Hasan keeping out 403 balls to salvage a draw in the opening game. He was the only Bangladeshi centurion of the series, and was eighth out as his side kept India at bay for more than 150 overs.
Hasan is 24 years old, and averages more than 40 in first-class cricket, with 13 centuries and 14 fifties, an impressive conversion rate. That average rises to 58.17 since the start of the 2021/22 season.