Pretoria: India A were set a stiff target of 307 to win the second and final four-day rubber after South Africa A declared their second innings at 166 for five on the penultimate day, here, at LC de Villiers Oval, on Monday.
At stumps, India A were already one wicket down with just three runs on the board from four overs so far in their second innings.
Fortunately for India A, captain Cheteshwar Pujara was batting on two, while night-watchman Shahbaz Nadeem was yet to open his account.
Pujara needs to score bulk of the runs if India A are to pull off a win, chances of which look slim considering how they batted in the first innings.
Opener Murali Vijay failed for the second time in the game as he was out for naught, with Beuran Hendricks striking again after his five-wicket haul (five for 36) wrecked the India A line-up in their first innings.
It will not be an easy task for the Indians, who have rested Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma for this game, to score the remaining runs on the final day.
The bowlers, too, didn’t find the going to be too easy as the rival batsmen batted without taking much risk in the 63 overs they faced, declaring at 166 for five — a total imposing enough to pose problems for the vulnerable India A batting order.
Barring left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who took three wickets for 56 runs, none of the other bowlers could make an impact.
Opener Dean Elgar was South Africa A’s top scorer with 62, while skipper Justin Ontong contributed with 35.
Openers Reeza Hendricks (22) and Elgar added 53 for the first wicket before Nadeem accounted for the former.
In his very next over, Nadeem cleaned up Rilee Russouw as South Africa A lost two wickets without any addition to the total.
Earlier in the day, India A were all out for 201 to concede a sizeable 140-run first innings lead. Resuming at 145 for six, India lost their last four wickets for 24 runs after overnight batsmen Parvez Rasool and Ambati Rayudu tried to put up a resistance.
The duo another 32 runs in the morning before Simon Harmer (four for 74) dismissed Rayudu. Rasool (32 not out), made an effort to reduce the margin, but ran out of partners as Hendricks knocked over the tail soon after.
The likes of Nadeem, Ishwar Pandey and Siddharth Kaul simply didn’t have the capacity to fight it out and provide some much-needed support to Rasool.