Mumbai: Shreyas Iyer stroked his way to an unbeaten half-century in an otherwise unimpressive batting display by India ‘A’ in reply to Australia’s first-innings total of 469 for seven declared on the second day of the three-day practice game here.
Iyer, who has been knocking on the doors of the national team over the past couple of seasons with his attacking batting in domestic cricket, could not have chosen a better platform to showcase his talent, smashing 5 sixes and 7 fours in an almost run-a-ball innings to remain unconquered on 85 in a team score of 176 for 4 in 51 overs.
The batsman unbeaten at the other end with Iyer, who has faced 93 balls in 147 minutes’ stay, was another youngster – Rishabh Pant of Delhi – who was on 3.
India ‘A’ were 293 runs in arrears at stumps.
Starting his innings in stunning fashion with a six over long on off the first ball he faced from Nathan Lyon, Iyer dominated the rival bowling, barring Jackson Bird, who was the pick of the Australian bowlers with his pace and movement at the Brabourne Stadium.
Iyer gave just once chance, off Lyon, soon after reaching his half century in 44 balls, but otherwise dominated the Aussie spin duo of Lyon, whom he hit for three sixes, and left-arm spinner Stepen O’Keefe, who was hoisted for two over the ropes by the youngster.
All the sixes were hit over long-on as Iyer, who is 15 runs short of his ninth first-class hundred in 38 games, danced down the track.
The 22-year-old batsman’s innings was the pick of the India ‘A’ reply in which opener Priyank Panchal made 36 with six fours in 77 minutes, but was beaten often by lanky pacer Jackson Bird.
The other opener Akhil Herwadkar struggled his way to 4 in 48 minutes, Ankit Bawne made an attractive but all-too-brief 25 in 39 minutes with four hits to the fence while skipper Hardik Pandya too got a start before departing late in the day for 19, caught behind off Bird.
Iyer and Pandya, dropped on 3 at first slip by Matt Renshaw off Bird, had consolidated the innings after the fall of Bawne with a partnership of 52.
Iyer and Bawne had earlier steadied the innings after the loss of the two openers with a stand of 57 for the third wicket.
For Australia, Lyon although punished by Iyer showed good form as he got purchase off the track to pick up 2 for 72 while Bird, easily the most impressive of the visiting team’s bowlers, did not allow the batsmen any freedom and also got rid of Pandya to end with excellent figures of 2 for 15 in 11 overs.
In the morning, Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade utilised the one-off opportunity to hit individual half centuries, ahead of the Test series opener.