Visakhapatnam: A maiden five-wicket haul from part-time left-arm spinner Ashok Menaria set the basis for India A's six-wicket win over New Zealand A on Tuesday, meaning the home team wrapped up the series 2-0 with a game to spare. Menaria's 5 for 38 were his best bowling figures in any format and played a big role in New Zealand A making just 216, a total India A overhauled with six wickets in hand thanks to fifties to Unmukt Chand and Mandeep Singh.
After Chand opted to field, India A made early inroads as Dhawal Kulkarni had Anton Devcich caught behind for 1 in the second over. Luke Ronchi's 32-ball 34 helped the tourists add 42 in quick time for the second wicket, but Kulkarni removed the former Australia wicketkeeper in the tenth over.
From here, the best partnership that New Zealand could manage was 67 for the sixth wicket as Menara proved an unlikely wicket-taker, though in truth all five of his wickets came from aerial shots.
Menaria was the fifth bowler used by Chand and made an impact with his fourth delivery bowled, thanks to a fine diving catch at mid-off from Sandeep Sharma after Colin Munro drove on the rise. Menaria immediately tied down the New Zealand batsmen with his tidy spin, and in his fifth over picked up Daryl Mitchell who lofted to long-off.
After bowling eight overs in a row, Menaria was given a brief break. Given the ball for the 42nd over, he picked up the innings top-scorer Carl Cachopa (80 off 103 balls) caught at deep midwicket. When Andrew Ellis (34) found Robin Uthappa at long-on, Menaria crossed his previous List A best of 3 for 43 achieved in the previous match. His fifth wicket came with his last delivery when Scott Kuggeleijn was stumped for 3. Sandeep and Basant Mohanty picked up a wicket each as the innings closed in 47.2 overs.
India's chase towards 217 was guided by Chand, who made a stroke-filled 59, and Mandeep after a couple early wickets to Mark Gillespie. Uthappa failed to cash in on a drop by Tom Latham in the slips off the second ball of the innings, making 12 before he drove Gillespie to cover. Chand cracked a couple eye-catching sixes early in the chase either side of Aditya Tare's dismissal for 7, cutting Gillespie to Ronchi in the ninth over, while Mandeep signalled his intent with two fours and a six off Kuggeleijn's opening over.
Chand and Mandeep added 89 before the skipper was bowled by Adam Milne in the 26th over. Mandeep breezed to a fifty in 60 balls but like Chand was unable to make it large; he was bowled by Matt Henry after the ball rolled off his pads and onto the stumps. Menaria (37*) and Kedar Jadhav (30*) finished the match with an stand of 53. Jadhav used a drop on 11 to make a punchy innings while Menaria opened up after a slow start with four boundaries in 11 balls to negate whatever hope the New Zealanders had.
The third and final match is at the same venue on Thursday.