Pujara shines but India A lose to England Lions
London: Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara`s well-made 73 went in vain as India A succumbed to a five-wicket defeat against England Lions in the Triangular series at Grace Road, Leicester.
Put into bat, Pujara was the lone sparkle in India A`s batting line-up, whose middle order failed miserably to ultimately skittle out for 254 in 49.3 overs.
Chasing the target, Darren Stevens (58 not out) and Peter Trego (48 not out) shared a 90-run partnership as the Lions eased home with 26 balls to spare.
Earlier, Andrew Gale replaced Alastair Cook as captain after the England and Essex opener was withdrawn from the match as he was suffering from discomfort in his back.
Gale won the toss and put India A in to bat on a wicket that did not offer much to the new ball pairing of Sajid Mahmood and Ajmal Shahzad.
It was Somerset`s Peter Trego who picked up the first wicket in the 11th over, tempting Shikhar Dhawan (24) to drive one straight to Gale.
Ajinkya Rahane also departed quickly but Pujara stemmed the rot with a defiant 73 but was unable to find much support from his middle order with Ravi Bopara and Ajmal Shahzad both claiming three wickets apiece.
Chasing 255 to win, Gale (29) opened the batting with wicketkeeper Steven Davies (18), who was the first wicket to fall, followed by his skipper nine runs later.
After Jonathan Trott (22), Ian Bell (31) and Bopara (41) pushed England Lions to 165-5, the game was very much in the balance but then Trego joined hands with Stevens to take the game away from the Indians.
Stevens brought up his 50 off 71 balls while Trego displayed some typically aggressive batting, which included two successive sixes off left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla in the 35th over.
India A will next face West Indies A for the second time at Grace Road.