NEW ZEALAND A v INDIA A
First One-Day Match
7 December 2018 at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
Result: India A won by four wickets
A perfect, balmy evening watching big hits under lights at Bay Oval turned out to be not quite so idyllic for New Zealand A in the closely fought opening match of their one-day series with India A.
It was the first result on tour for India A after their drawn red-ball series, an ebullient crowd of India A supporters rejoicing in success at last in the big-scoring showdown in the first of three day-nighters at the Mount over the coming days, with an entertaining 619 runs scored in the game after New Zealand A set their visitors a chase of 309.
India A's four-wicket victory was a solid team effort despite form batsman Vijay Shankar top-scoring with an unbeaten 87 (including 12 boundaries, one six), young Shreyas Iyer also reaching a half century (a run-a-ball 54) in a well paced chase that went down to the penultimate over.
After India A's opening duo had got themselves off to a fast start at 61 for no loss in the 10th over, NZ A captain Corey Anderson turned to a double change in Doug Bracewell and Lockie Ferguson with the Aces quick taking just three balls to knock Mayank Agarwal's middle stump clean out of the ground.
Bracewell claimed Shubman Gill on 37 just a couple of overs later, Ferguson taking the catch in the deep to suddenly have India A pegged back at 73 for two.
However, the new combination of captain Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer took their side through to the 25th over, slathering on an 85-run stand for the third wicket.
Hamish Bennett in the second over of his second spell removed them both in the space of three balls, giving New Zealand A a fresh boost.
But while the double strike reignited hopes, yet another solid partnership would blossom between keeper-batsman Ishan Kishan (47) and Shankar who crucially guided his side home despite further wickets to Ferguson and Jimmy Neesham. The pair had put on 115 runs for the fifth wicket with the boundaries flowing towards the death.
Earlier, India A had sent their hosts in on a brilliantly fine afternoon, the left-handed duo of George Worker and Hamish Rutherford putting 83 on the board before Krishnappa Gowtham swooped from point to run out Worker (35) in the 15th for the first breakthrough.
New Zealand A's start was workmanlike on the Bay Oval surface but Rutherford was just six runs away from a half century when he lost his opening partner, and then taking time to re-establish himself with Will Young en route to his influential 70 at the top.
He was picking up the pace nicely — having just carved a four and then his first six off consecutive Pandya deliveries, now in better than run-a-ball territory — when Gowtham struck back on India A's behalf, Rutherford spooning a dolly catch to Pandey.
The breakthrough cost New Zealand A momentum — and a further setback followed when captain Corey Anderson departed cheaply a few overs later.
But at 137 for three, a platform had been launched, and there were still plenty enough wickets in hand to recover.
And recover they did. Will Young began again with Tim Seifert and, after initially dominating the strike, soon ceded to an aggressive Seifert who looked confident and in good touch from the outset, on one of his favourite grounds.
The impressive Kaul gained his first reward for charging in relentlessly when he stopped Young on 32 in the 33rd, at 157 for four, bringing Jimmy Neesham to the middle for the first time at New Zealand A level this season.
Now the new combo was into their work together quickly, and at the 39-over mark they looked intent on shifting up another gear.
Seifert was beginning to roll out his cheeky paddle scoops and sweeps and taking his first six off Saini, while Neesham was a picture down the ground and timing the ball sweetly.
Seifert's half century arrived early in the 43th over, off 47 balls, but when he was caught on 59 (3x4, 2x6) just two overs later, Neesham on a run-a-ball 28* was well placed to take over the finishing, with fellow new A recruit Cole McConchie.
Neesham pumped Kaul for six and although the bowler had his second wicket in McConchie soon after, the arrival of the experienced Doug Bracewell only served to turn the volume up at the death. He and Neesham slathered on a quick unbroken 42-stand to push New Zealand A up over the 300-mark.
India A would now need 309 to win but, after a rollicking evening's entertainment, with two overs remaining in their chase they had needed just a further six runs to get there.
A late wicket in Jimmy Neesham's last over had them six down, with a further five runs required, Pandya caught by Bracewell.
While New Zealand A had performed better towards the end of their innings with the bat, ultimately India A had got off to a better start, and been solid enough through the middle that the pressure was manageable, claiming the match with an over to spare.
There won't be much time for either side to dwell on the result, however, with game two of the three-match live-streamed series beginning at 2pm this Sunday.