India A too good but plenty to celebrate for NZ A. All images: MBUTCHER/NZC

Cracker finish to NZ A season

The strong India A squad ended their New Zealand tour with a 3-0 sweep in their 50-over clashes with New Zealand A at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, the last act of a successfully extended New Zealand A programme that had earlier seen the two teams square a hard fought first-class Series.
The home series followed the New Zealand A tour of UAE, New Zealand's aspiring BLACKCAPS locking horns with Pakistan A. The scheduling and added investment in developing New Zealand's top players against calibre international opponents provided big dividends, including Central Stags spinner Ajaz Patel's now famous BLACKCAPS Test debut in a historic Test Series win against Pakistan, also in UAE's unique conditions. All three of the latest daynighters had been played on the same ground and, while the first two were close contests, the finale was a win by 75 runs, India A bowling out New Zealand A for 200 in 44.2 overs.
New Zealand A's young Rachin Ravindra
Chasing 276, Hamish Rutherford put on 34 with both George Worker for the opening stand and first drop Rachin Ravindra.
But aside from Daryl Mitchell's 30, only wicketkeeper Tim Seifert made much progress against a determined India A attack that wasn't about to let up the pressure, despite having claimed the one-day series already.
Seifert scored 55 off 73 balls. Seifert and Mitchell combined for the best stand of the innings, 59 for the fourth wicket. However, India did a solid job with the ball. The loss of the threatening Jimmy Neesham, stumped trying to sweep at three, hurt NZ A's prospects but bustling seamer Siddarth Kaul was the pick of the India A attack, taking four for 37.
Kaul checks on Hamish Rutherford after a glance on the helmet. MBUTCHER/NZC
For the third straight game India A won the toss, but for the first time, New Zealand A got to bat second, with Doug Bracewell taking over the captain's armband for this match. One element both teams used, though, was opting to open with a spinner.
India A relied on four contributions on their way to 275 for eight. 
Opener Anmolpreet Singh top-scored with 71 off 80 balls, before holing out to long on. Together with Ankit Bawne, who hit a run-a-ball 48, he shared a 64-run stand for the fourth wicket and, with 10 overs remaining, India A looked poised to put the foot down.
However, for the second consecutive game, a NZ A bowler took two wickets in consecutive balls to put a crimp in the Indian innings. It was off-spinner Cole McConchie two nights earlier; in game three it was seamer Seth Rance.
Vijay Shankar, one of the Indian successes of the tour, hit 42 to follow 87 off 80 balls and 59 in games one and two, while late in the innings Axar Patel hit 31 briskly before falling to a really good running, diving catch coming in from deep midwicket by George Worker off Hamish Bennett.
New Zealand A used eight bowlers with Rance the most successful, taking three for 49 off seven overs; speedster Lockie Ferguson took two for 20 off five while McConchie, although wicketless, did a tidy job.
The three four-day fixtures were drawn, but India A took the one-day honours in a series which produced some quality cricket from both sides. The first two games came down to the end of the 99th over, suggesting there wasn't much between the teams. India will head home with the memory of a convincing win fresh in the mind, while there was plenty of positives for the New Zealand A programme as NZC strengthened its depth at international level.

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