Rajkot: Opening batsman Sadagopan Ramesh staked his claim for a Test recall with a fine 110 as India 'A' reached 216 for four in their first innings on the second day of the three-day cricket match against New Zealand on Friday. Replying to New Zealand's first innings total of 375 for seven declared, the Indians were off to a good start, thanks to a 164-run stand for the opening wicket between Ramesh and Akash Chopra (66 off 136 balls). A slump in the middle cost India 'A' three quick wickets including that of another prospective opener Connor Williams and skipper Mohammed Kaif (4) but Ramesh stood his ground to stem the rot before he was caught by Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming off Darryl Tuffey after facing 206 balls. At the close, Hemang Badani was batting on seven while Murali Kartik was on four. It was imperative for India 'A' to put up a good show with the bat as the bowlers, three of them untested -- Munaf Patel, Rudra Pratap Singh and S Sreesanth had allowed the visitors to pile runs at will. And the India 'A' openers did not disappoint. Ramesh, who was dropped on 96 by first- slip fielder Scot Styris, got to the three figure mark when he pushed Styris to mid- off for a couple. His century came off 190 balls in 252 minutes and included 18 hits to the fence. The Tamil Nadu left-hander was undeterred in his shot making by the fall of his partner Chopra, who was caught by Paul Wiseman in the deep while trying to hook Jacob Oram for 66 (13x4). India 'A' lost two more quick wickets that of Williams and Kaif who must be disappointed as he was keen to make an impression and break into the Test squad. Williams was caught by Styris in the slips off Vettori for four while Kaif was caught by wicketkeeper Robbie Hart down the leg side while trying to glance the same bowler.
What stood out on the day was the contrast in batting styles of Ramesh and Chopra. While Ramesh played with flamboyance, Chopra played a surprisingly subdued knock. Chopra, who scored a hundred in the washed-out match at Visakhapatnam, took 40 minutes to open his account after facing 30 deliveries. But Ramesh was timing his shots well right from the word go and did not spare any of the New Zealand bowlers. He was particularly severe on Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori cutting and driving them at will. He also scored freely off left arm spinner Daniel Vettori and Styris. He reached his 50 with a hook off Craig McMillan which also brought up India 'A's 100.
Earlier, all rounder Jacob Oram's unbeaten 101 off 141 balls with ten fours and three sixes helped New Zealand declare their first innings on 375 for seven off 110.5 overs half an hour before lunch. Oram, 59 overnight, shouldered the responsibility of taking his side to a good score after the other overnight batsman and the first century maker for the Kiwis Mark Richardson retired hurt on his overnight score of 128. None of the India 'A' bowlers, including their most successful bowler Munaf Patel (three for 83) could trouble the tall left-hander Oram who also hit makeshift bowler Sadagopan Ramesh for a six over long-on. Oram played a couple of well-timed cover drives off Patel before reaching his three- figure mark with a reverse sweep boundary off left arm-spinner Murali Kartik.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Robbie Hart (20 off 40 balls with two fours) was the first to go when he was caught by India 'A' wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta off Ramesh. New man Daniel Vettori played one fine back foot driven four off Ramesh but was caught by substitute Abhijit Kale at forward short leg off Kartik soon for seven. When Paul Wiseman struck a four off Ramesh, Fleming called halt to New Zealand innings. The Kiwis, who were struggling at 91 for four at one stage on Thursday, did well to frustrate the inexperienced Indian bowling attack.