The first unofficial test match between India A and South Africa A got underway on Monday in Thiruvanthapuram.
It was India A who won the toss and elected to bowl first, a decision that reaped immediate dividends when paceman Mohammed Siraj removed the South Africa A captain Aiden Markram with just the fourth ball of the day, caught behind by wicket-keeper KS Barat.
Then the visitors suffered another blow when the other opener Pieter Malan also fell for a duck, again caught behind, with Shardul Thakur the bowler this time. Zubayr Hamza at least got the scoreboard moving with 13, but he became the third man to fall, bowled by the leg spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.
And things continued to go downhill for the visitors. Khaya Zondo was caught behind off Thakur for 6, and Heinrich Klaasen fell to the same bowler, caught by Nadeem, to leave South Africa A reeling at 22 -5. Wiaan Mulder and Senuran Muthusamy led a mini-recovery with a stand of 30, but that was ended when Krishnappa Gowtham claimed the wicket of Mulder for 21.
At lunch, South Africa had lurched to 67 – 6.
Their cause was not helped on the resumption of play when Muthusamy was run out for 12 by Ankit Bawne, but Dane Piedt and Marco Jansen staged a rear-guard action with a stand of 31, before Piedt, who had scored 33, was bowled by Gowtham. At that point, Jansen decided that attack was the best form of defence, and he began to open his shoulders. He put on 30 for the ninth wicket with Lutho Sipalma, and when Sipalma was bowled by Gowtham, he added a further 33 with last man Lungu Ngidi. The fast bowler was the final wicket to fall, bowled by Nadeem for 15, as South Africa closed their innings on 164, with Jansen unbeaten on 45, having struck two sixes.
Thakur took 3 for 29, and Gowtham also took three wickets, although he was relatively expensive, conceding 64 runs to the South African tail.
In response, India A got off to a fine start with their openers of Ruturaj Gaikwad and captain Shubman Gill putting on 48 for the first wicket, until Gaikwad fell for 30, bowled by Jansen. Gill and Ricky Bhul then added 58 together, before Bhul became the second Indian wicket to fall, bowled by Ngidi for 26. Gill and Bawne saw out the rest of the day which closed with India A 129/2. Trailing South Africa A by 35 runs, with 8 wickets still standing.
Gill was 55 not out overnight, and Bawne 6 not out.