Out-of-favour India opener K L Rahul was back amongst the runs, his unbeaten 88 steering India A to 291 for one on day two of the first unofficial Test against England Lions Friday. India ‘A’ came up with a strong reply to England Lions’ first innings score of 340, courtesy Rahul and Priyank Panchal, who was unbeaten on 89.
Navdeep Saini’s five-wicket haul helped the host restrict the Lions, who resumed the day at 303 for five. Apart from Ben Duckett (80), there were half-centuries for Sam Hain (61) and Will Jack (63). The stylish Rahul, who played a few matches in the preceding ODI series against the Lions but couldn’t get going, started slowly, scoring 12 off 57 balls.
He played with assurance and in Panchal’s company added 171 runs for the second wicket. Rahul looked compact and left a lot of balls early in his innings. After settling down, he played some delightful shots all round the wicket, including a few beautiful drives.
The stylish Karnataka batsman, who had a dismal Australia tour, handled the Lions pace bowlers and spinners with equal ease. Rahul was sent back from Australia following the conclusion of the Tests after he and Hardik Pandya were caught in a massive controversy over their loose remarks on women during a television show. The BCCI revoked their interim suspension pending an inquiry.
Following that, he was picked in the India A limited-overs squad for the ODIs against the Lions. Friday’s knock would give him a lot of confidence in the wake of his recent on and off field struggles. Gujarat batsman Panchal matched Rahul stroke for stroke and played some lovely shots, hitting 16 fours in all.
Earlier in the day, Saini picked up three of the five wickets to fall in the first session, triggering the Lions’s collapse from 321 for six to 340 all out. Brief scores: England Lions 340 all out in 104.3 overs