Raina powers India A to a comfortable position

September 30th, 2008 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Sep 30 (IANS) Skipper Suresh Raina hit a blitzkrieg 146 that included five sixes in an over as India A firmed their grip on the third and penultimate day of their first Test against New Zealand A at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here Tuesday. India were all out for 336 about 33 minutes after tea to set a 355 run target for victory in a minimum of 108 overs for New Zealand, who had conceded an 18-run first innings lead.

At stumps, New Zealand were 41 for the loss of opener B.J. Watling who was ruled leg before to off-spinner Mohnish Parmar.

Raina’s five sixes came in leg-spinner Aaron Redmond’s 12th over. The 21-year old southpaw defended the first ball and then carted the next five over midwicket. Redmond, who went for 92 runs in his 12 overs, was promptly replaced by paceman Brent Arnel who grabbed four wickets in 10 deliveries to wrap up the Indian innings.

More importantly, Raina’s 130 balls innings included ten fours and eight sixes, provided India the momentum and put them in a strong position to force victory.

The Kiwi bowlers, toiling in hot and humid conditions, were made to look pedestrian as opener Sahil Kukreja (41) and Murali Vijay (57) chipped in to provide a solid foundation for the Indian innings.

Raina batted freely, driving fluently with impeccable timing. Along with Vijay, he put on 83 runs for the third wicket. He then added 59 for the fifth wicket with Yusuf Pathan (25) after Jaydev Shah’s cheap dismissal, before cutting lose.

In the company of Wriddhiman Saha (39), Raina added 88 runs in just 17.2 overs for the sixth wicket.

Such was India’s pace that they scored 139 runs in 34.3 overs in the first session and another 141 in 29 overs in the second session to push the Kiwis on the backfoot.

Raina was finally out when he lofted off-spinner Nathan McCullum to James Marshall at deep mid-wicket, in the second over after tea, but by then, he had inflicted a lot of damage on the Kiwis.

Raina’s dismissal immediately triggered a collapse with 29-year-old Arnel picking up three wickets in one over while missing a hat-trick in the process.

Arnel trapped Amit Mishra and Mohnish Parmar leg before off the first and second deliveries and then bowled Ashok Dinda off the sixth. In his next over, he rattled Saha’s stumps to finish with four wickets off 10 deliveries, leaving the Kiwis to bat out 18 overs to stumps.

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