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Battle for No. 6 hots up

Mumbai: Manoj Tiwary staked his claim for a spot in the Indian Test team with a determined knock of 93 which helped India A recover from a wobbly start to reach 369 for nine on Day I of the three-day game against England, on Tuesday.

Tiwary’s feat came after opener Abhinav Mukund and comeback man Yuvraj Singh, also in the running for the No. 6 slot in the Indian squad, hit quick-fire half centuries after India A captain Suresh Raina elected to bat, at the Brabourne Stadium.

The Bengal captain, looking well set for a deserving century, tried to play across against England’s pacer Tim Bresnan and found his stumps rattled. He faced 150 balls and hit 11 fours in his 202-minute knock. At stumps, R Vinay Kumar (25) and last man Parwinder Awana (11) were at the crease.

Tiwary, who came in at the fall of Raina’s wicket with India A struggling at 140 for four, pulled the innings together after the hosts had lost two more wickets at 190 in 47 overs. The middle-order batsman put on a century partnership with Irfan Pathan who made 46 in 113 minutes.

The duo put on a stand of 110 for the seventh wicket in 168 balls, with Pathan striking five fours and two sixes, to take the team past the 300-mark.

Earlier, Mukund made a quick-fire 73 after living dangerously in the beginning, while Yuvraj — dropped first ball by Samit Patel at square leg off Tim Bresnan — slammed four sixes and seven fours in his 59 before both the left-handers were claimed by Graeme Swann on either side of lunch.

Yuvraj, eager to bag the No. 6 spot in the Indian Test batting line-up for the upcoming four-Test series against the visitors, impressed the four selectors present before his impetuosity cost him his wicket. He was stumped while trying to clout Swann, who bowled beautifully, for a second six in the same over.

The other top-order batsmen, including Raina, who is also in the running for the no. 6 slot, flopped.

The home team lost Mukund, Murali Vijay (7) and Ajinkya Rahane (4) in the first session then surrendered the wickets of Raina (20), Yuvraj and Wridhiman Saha (20) in the second session.

England suffered an injury scare in the first session when Steve Finn was forced off with a thigh problem. The 23-year-old fast bowler will undergo a scan to assess the extent of the damage and a decision will then be made on his participation for the remaining two days of this match.

Finn, who appeared certain to start the first Test against India next month, went off at the start of the 14th over — which he was due to bowl — after feeling discomfort while fielding during the previous over.