Saurabh Kumar grabs his 22nd five-for as India A close-in on victory over Lions | Cricket

Left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar continued his brilliant run for India A with his 22nd career five-wicket haul, putting India A on the cusp of a big win against England Lions at the end of day three in the second ‘unofficial Test’ in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

Saurabh Kumar(Getty )

Starting the second innings with 341 runs in arrears, England Lions did perform far better in the second innings, ending the day at 304 for 8. They still need 37 runs to avoid innings defeat and only have two wickets in hand.

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It was the seventh-wicket stand of 102 runs between keeper Ollie Robinson (84 batting) and Brydon Carse (38) that enabled Lions to stretch the proceedings to the fourth day. England were 156 for six at one stage and the end seemed near before the Robinson-Carse pair stemmed the rot.

However other than India A win on fourth day, any other result looks improbable unless the heavens open up on Saturday.

The third day belonged to Saurabh, who is nearing 300 wickets in first class cricket, after ending with figures of 5/104 in 29 overs. He can add two more to his 289 wickets on Saturday.

The pint-sized UP spinner is one of the most distinguished performers among India’s fringe players and has taken five-wicket hauls against most ‘A’ including from New Zealand A and Bangladesh A.

The 30-year-old is also a handy lower middle-order batter with two first-class hundreds and a near 27 average.

However it is sheer bad luck that his career coincided with Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel and hence it has been difficult to fit him into the squad.

Saurabh did get a few call-ups for senior India but had to warm the bench on all occasions.

Someone, who is an old school left-arm spinner, happy to flight the ball and put a good amount of loop to deceive the batters in the air.

He first got left-handed opener Keaton Jennings, caught by Sarfaraz Khan, then bowled an arm ball to trap right-handed Oliver Price in-front of stumps.

He also removed Carse at the nick of time just after he had completed a century stand with Robinson, drawing him forward only to be stumped by Upendra Yadav.

He got a good support from Bengal speedster Akash Deep (3/57 in 18 overs), who dismissed rival skipper Josh Bohanon (48), who looked in ominous touch.

Brief Scores: England Lions 152 and 304/8 (Ollie Robinson 84 batting, Saurabh Kumar 5/102).

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