Visakhapatnam: After being bailed out of trouble on day one by two middle-order batsmen, New Zealand A were lifted into a dominant position in the second unofficial Test thanks to two unlikely heroes with the bat. From an overnight 300 for 8, the tourists finished on 437 as Doug Bracewell (96) and Ish Sodhi (57) defied the home team's bowlers for 43.1 overs. In reply, India A closed on 94 for 2, trailing by 343 runs at the Port Trust Diamond Jubilee Stadium on Tuesday.
The ninth-wicket partnership of 162 between the two tailenders was New Zealand's second best on tour, behind the 165 that Corey Anderson and Anton Devcich put together on day one. Having denied the Indian bowlers for 70 balls on Monday evening, Bracewell and Sodhi resumed their stubborn stand on 12 and 14 respectively and thwarted whatever came their way. Bracewell reached his half-century first and was the more aggressive of the two especially against the spinners; he struck 11 fours and a six. Sodhi, whose previous best was 52, occupied the crease well and allowed Bracewell to go for his shots.
From 426 for 8 at lunch, New Zealand slumped in the afternoon session. Bracewell was the first to be dismissed, bowled for 96 (one short of his first-class best of 97) when India skipper Abhishek Nayar rattled his stumps. In the next over, Dhawal Kulkarni got Sodhi got in the slips. Spinners Jalaj Saxena and Rakesh Dhurv both conceded over 100.
India A lost an early wicket once again, with Unmukt Chand getting another score of 4 (he made the same in the first match), as he nicked Test aspirant Mark Gillespie behind in the fifth over. The next jolt came from Bracewell, who removed Vijay Zol for 2 - poking an away-swinger to first slip - in a top opening spell of 5-1-9-1. Gillespie too was excellent in bowling an opening spell of 6-3-6-1 as India A managed just 28 runs from 15 overs.
A collapse was averted as VA Jagadeesh (40*) and Manprit Juneja (43*) put on 78 to take India A to 94 for 2 in 38 overs at the close play.