Rahane, Saha keep India A hopes alive
Pretoria: Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha put up a brave fight to overcome early jitters and enable India `A` reach 177 for five at tea while chasing 307 for victory against South Africa `A` on the fourth and final day of the second and final unofficial `Test` here on Tuesday.
Reeling at 18 for five, Rahane and Saha consolidated India`s innings by sharing an unbeaten 159-run stand for the sixth wicket to brighten India`s chances of winning the two-match series 2-0.
India A won the first `Test` by an innings and 13 runs at Rustenburg.
At tea, Rahane was batting on 85 while Saha was unbeaten on 75, even as India A required another 130 runs for victory with five wickets remaining.
Resuming the day on three for one, India lost four wickets in quick succession for just 17 runs, as left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks struck three early blows. His figures read an impressive four for 27 when the teams went for tea.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who resumed today on 2, failed to add to his overnight total as Jutin Ontong ran him out.
Hendricks, who dismissed opener Murali Vijay (2) yesterday, accounted for the other three wickets -- overnight batsman Shahbaz Nadeem (5), Dinesh Karthik (0) and Ambati Rayudu (1) -- to leave the Indians in tatters, before Rahane and Saha came to the team`s rescue.
Both the batsmen played with a lot of caution and made sure that the Indians do not lose any more wickets. The duo frustrated the host bowlers by completing their fifties.
While Rahane took 148 balls and hit 10 fours, Saha`s knock came off 162 balls and included 11 fours.
Earlier, India`s first innings folded for a meagre 201 in reply to South Africa`s 341. In the second essay the Proteas declared at 166 for five to set the visitors a stiff target.
Brief Scores (At Tea): South Africa A: 341 & 166 for five decl (Dean Elgar 34, Shahbaz Nadeem 3/56).
India A: 201 & 177 for five in 58 overs (Ajinkya Rahane batting 85, Wriddhiman Saha batting 75; Beuran Hendricks 4/27).