Gurkeerat Mann's heroics win the tri-series for India A
Gurkeerat Mann was the hero with both bat and bowl as India A beat Australia A in the final of the Paytm Triangular series to clinch their first series triumph under new coach Rahul Dravid. Set a target of 227, India A were struggling at one stage at 82-4 and then 142-6, but Mann, who had earlier picked up 2 wickets in Australia's innings, played calmly under pressure with a knock of 87 from 85 balls that secured a four-wicket victory for India A.
Australia A had headed into the final winning all four of their matches in the round-robin stage that also involved South Africa A and were the undoubted favourites for today’s match. Those odds were enhanced as they got off to a brilliant start after skipper Usman Khawaja won the toss and decided to bat first.
Khawaja and Joe Burns, who has been called up to the senior teams following his brilliant performances in the series, put on 82 runs for the opening wicket at a run a ball before Gurkeerat got the breakthrough for Dravid’s men.
The scoring rate dropped considerably after the fall of the opening stand and the second wicket partnership yielded 46 runs in almost 13 overs before Karn Sharma, the pick of the Indian bowlers with three wickets, dismissed Travis Head.
The wickets kept tumbling down thereafter as Australia A were unable to capitalise on the good start. Khawaja was the top scorer for his side with 76 runs while Burns made 41. For India A, while Gurkeerat and Sharma were among the wickets, they were ably supported by Axar Patel and Karun Nair who did the job of containing the flow of runs admirably.
In reply, India A got off to a flying start with both Mayank Agarwal and skipper Unmukt Chand looking to chase down the modest target in quick time. They reached 59 in 8.2 overs before Agarwal was dismissed for 32. Chand followed soon after only to be joined in the dressing room by Nair and Manish Pandey.
At 82/4, India A were definitely in a spot of bother. Kedar Jadhav made a decent 29, but he and Patel who came in after Jadhav were unable to support Gurkeerat who was playing superbly at the other end. When Patel was dismissed for 16, India A were 85 runs off the target with four wickets left in hand.
Wicketkeeper Sanju Samson though played a mature innings of 24 from 42 balls as he kept hold of one end allowing Gurkeerat to carry on with the big hitting. His knock consisted of 7 hits to the fence and two sixes but was equally impressive in rotating the strike along with Samson.
In the end, it was a comfortable four-wicket victory with more than six overs to spare, but if not for Gurkeerat’s heroics the story could have been very different. Ashton Agar was once again the standout bowler for the Aussies with figures of 2/39 in his 10 overs.
As expected, Gurkeerat Singh won the Man of the Match award while Mayank Agarwal who was the leading run-getter in the series with 409 runs from five innings won the Man of the Series award.