With their backs against the wall, the England Lions dug deep and escaped with a draw in the first of two unofficial Tests against India A at Krishnagiri Stadium, Wayanad. After conceding a 200-run first innings lead, the visitors who were 20/0 at stumps on Day 3, had Sam Hain (57) and Olly Pope (63) to thank for their gritty performances on the final day.
Along expected lines, the Lions began the final day with a watchful approach with openers Max Holden (29) and Ben Duckett (30) putting on a 63-run partnership for the first wicket.
The overnight duo kept frustrating the Indian bowlers through most of the morning session as the Lions went into the lunch break at 76/1, adding 56 runs to the overnight score, with Holden joined by Hain at the crease.
Holden though was dismissed soon after the start of the post-lunch session by Jalaj Saxena.
Hain was then joined by Pope and the duo made the India A bowlers toil and batted through the second session.
Half-centurions Hain and Pope, put on a 105-run stand for the third wicket – thwarting any hopes of a victory for the hosts.
With the Lions still trailing by 14 runs, Pope was dismissed by Shabaz Nadeem which triggered a mini-collapse of sorts.
Sam Billings though did not last more than 21 deliveries as Nadeem picked up a second wicket to give his side some hopes of turning the situation in their favour.
A well-set Hain was then trapped leg before by Saxena for his second wicket, and the Lions were reduced to 198/5 shortly after the start of the final session.
Shortly after the dismissal of Hain, Will Jacks (4*), Steven Mullaney (0*) helped the Lions past the magic 200-run figure before both sides decided to call off play early as the game was headed undoubtedly for a draw.
The second unofficial Test between India A and the England Lions begins on February 13 in Mysore.