| Rohan Gavaskar, who top-scored for India A with 79 not out
Bangalore: The Anil Kumble-led India A got off to a flying start in the TVS Salve Challenger Series when they beat India Senior by 27 runs in the opening match here on Wednesday night.
After notching up a challenging 276 for eight, thanks to fine half-centuries by Rohan Gavaskar, Sridharan Sriram and a 45 by Sachin Tendulkar, India A restricted the seniors to 249 for eight in their quota of 50 overs.
Chasing over five-and-a-half per over under lights, the seniors were struggling at 86 for four in the 20th over before Hemang Badani (73) and Sanjay Bangar (66) resurrected hopes with a 114-run stand. Sourav Gangulyís team required 100 runs from the last ten overs, but Badaniís departure in the 42nd over, with the total on 200, put paid to their hopes. Badaniís 79-ball knock was studded with seven fours.
Bangar was out in the 47th over, his runs coming off 95 balls with two fours and a six.
The seniors were in early trouble when Parthiv Patel departed for a duck in the very first over. Soon, the promising Aambati Rayudu was run out for two, with only seven runs on the board. Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman tried to steady the boat but failed to get the momentum going.
Trying to step up the run-rate, skipper Ganguly holed out after making 27 off 35 balls with three fours, leaving the side struggling at 39 for three.
Bangar joined forces with Laxman and the two added 47 for the fourth wicket before Tendulkar trapped the latter leg-before. Kumble led his side from the front, grabbing three wickets while pace bowler Avishkar Salvi bagged two.
Earlier, India A recovered from a shaky start to post a challenging 276 for eight. Speedster Lakshmipati Balaji (five for 50) grabbed three wickets in a fiery opening spell to have India A tottering at 66 for three.
But Sachin Tendulkar rescued the team with a 65-ball 45 which included four boundaries. Sridharan Sriram (76) and Rohan took charge thereafter to take India A to a position of strength at the M. A. Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Rohan and Sriram put on 126 for the fifth wicket, frustrating the bowling attack which had the likes of Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
Sriram, who hit four fours in his 83-ball knock, eventually fell to Balaji in the 46th over, miscuing a hit and holing out to Sourav at mid-on. Rohan, who got a life when Balaji dropped him at deep midwicket off Sanjay Bangar on 23, went on to hit seven fours and one six in his 96-ball knock.
Earlier, Balaji removed opener Gautam Gambhir (7), Wasim Jaffer (16) and Mohammed Kaif (11) in his first seven overs.
Balaji also cleaned up Sachin on seven but it turned out to be a no ball.Gambhir and Jaffer, the two batsmen in the race for the openerís slot for the upcoming series against New Zealand and Australia, failed to rise to the occasion. Gambir spooned an easy catch to A. T. Rayudu at point while Jaffer followed him soon snicking a Balaji delivery to V.V.S. Laxman at second slip.
Kaif, fresh from his County stint with Derbyshire, started off confidently hitting a boundary off Zaheer, who opened the bowling attack after Kumble won the toss and opted to bat.
Unlike Balaji, Zaheer seemed to struggle with his rhythm and line and he came in for some harsh treatment in his first spell, which read none for 38 of five. It was left to Sachin and Sriram to steady the boat and the two put on 45 for the fourth wicket.