Barely 48 hours after receiving his umpteenth snub from the selectors, Mumbai’s ‘run-machine’ Sarfaraz Khan served a stern reminder to the national selection committee with a majestic 161 that put India A in complete command over England Lions on day two of the second ‘unofficial Test’ in Ahmedabad. Having bowled out England for 152 on the opening day, India A, starting the day at 150 for no loss, ended on 489 with a massive 337-run first innings lead which will give them a good shot of gunning for an innings victory.
While seasoned Abhimanyu Easwaran (58) and left-handed Devdutt Padikkal (105) set the platform with a 162-run opening stand, Sarfaraz took full advantage of good batting conditions looting runs off the Lions spinners, who didn’t have answers to his repeated onslaught.
While younger brother Musheer Khan was the hero for India against Ireland with a fine ton at the ongoing U-19 World Cup in South Africa, Sarfaraz, expectedly hurt after being pipped by Rajat Patidar as Virat Kohli’s replacement in the two Tests against England, did the best possible thing — let his bat do all the talking.
The conditions were featherbed at the Narendra Modi Stadium ‘Ground A’ but no one can take the credit away from the burly Mumbaikar, who gave a masterclass on how to tackle spinners.
All his five sixes came off specialist spinners — three he hit off left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson, all down the ground while a couple of maximums came off off-spinner Oliver Price, one of which was hit into the cow corner.
He took a special liking for Parkinson, who was also hit for nine of his 18 boundaries. He repeatedly used his feet and also played a lot of inside out drives.
Sarfaraz was also severe on opposition’s best bowler Matthew Potts (6/125), the right arm seamer who has already played for England. He was creamed for half dozen boundaries as he repeatedly peppered the cover and extra cover boundary region.
He added 169 for the sixth wicket with Washington Sundar (57) and 96 for the seventh wicket with spinner Saurabh Kumar (77), who was also in rollicking form with the willow, helping himself with 16 fours.
The innings would keep Sarfaraz firmly in contention for a Test berth as no one knows when someone gets injured as he would certainly be the next in line if Shreyas Iyer fails to get going in the current series.
Brief Scores: England Lions 152. India A 489 (Sarfaraz Khan 161, Devdutt Padikkal 105, Abhimanyu Easwaran 58, Washington Sundar 57, Saurabh Kumar 77, Matthew Potts 6/125).
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