Hubli: Out-of-favour Zaheer Khan sparked a sensational West Indies A collapse with a three-wicket burst as India A notched up an innings and 54 runs victory over the visitors in the third and final Test to level the three-match series here Saturday.
The left-arm seamer bagged four for 59 as West Indies A conceded the match at 242 for nine in their second innings in the 13th over after lunch on the final day at KSCA Stadium. Wicketkeeper Jahmar Hamilton did not come out to bat due to injury he sustained yesterday while fielding.
The highlight of India's performance was skipper Cheteshwar Pujara's magnificent 306 not out and Gautam Gambhir's 123 which enabled India A to post a mammoth 564 for nine declared in their first innings, thereby ensuring a 296 runs lead. Put into bat, West Indies A had made 268 all out in their first innings.
Zaheer, who finished the match with five for 92 runs, ran into the lower-order batsmen after lunch today in his fourth spell of the innings, claiming three wickets in a space of his eight deliveries. The 35-year-old started the spell by first cleaning up a dogged Narasingh Deonaraine with a beautiful ball which pierced the defence of the Guyanese after he had made a fighting 99 runs, which included 13 hits to the fence.
Zaheer ran in hard and castled the wickets of Ashley Nurse (0) and Miguel Cummins in his 17th over to help India A seal the Test and level the series. India A had lost the first Test at Mysore to West Indies A by 162 runs and the second Test at Shimoga ended in a tame draw.
None of the West Indies A batsmen stood their ground to the India A attack, except the indomitable Deonaraine who put up stiff resistance with a fighting knock. Deonaraine put up 82-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Assad Fudadin to prevent India A from wrapping up the match before lunch.
The Guyanese left-hander put on 69-run partnership with Nikita Miller (17) for sixth wicket partnership. Resuming at an overnight score of 116 for three, West Indies A lost two quick wickets after first innings leading wicket-taker Abhishek Nayar produced the much-required breakthrough by sending back the dogged Fudadin for 49.
Fudadin had five hits to the fence in 101 balls. The Mumbai all-rounder did not wait long as he celebrated his second wicket by cleaning up promising batsman Jonathan Carter for 12 off 17 balls, reducing the visitors to 199 for five. Other wicket takers for India A were Ishwar Pandey, Dhawal Kulkarni and Bharghav Bhatt, who all claimed one wicket each.