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Ton-up Bairstow boosts Test hopes

MUMBAI, Nov 3: Jonny Bairstow cracked a defiant 118 on Saturday to boost his Test hopes and help England reach 338-6 on the opening day of a three-day practice game against Mumbai ‘A’.

Bairstow, who is England’s back-up wicket-keeper, struck 14 fours in 177 balls and shared a 156-run stand for the fifth wicket with Eoin Morgan (76) to rescue the visiting side after they were struggling on 66-4 at lunch.

At the close, spinning all-rounder Samit Patel was on 59 with captain Stuart Broad on 6.

Little-known Mumbai pace bowler Kshemal Waingankar, who has 25 wickets in 11 previous first-class games, removed Ian Bell for four and opener Nick Compton for one to orchestrate the mini collapse in the morning.

Bairstow’s bid to make the Test team could be helped by Bell’s plans to fly home for the birth of his first child.

The four-Test series starts from Nov 15 in Ahmedabad and is being viewed in India as a chance to avenge their 4-0 defeat in England last year.

Stuart Broad is captain in this game with regular skipper Alastair Cook being rested after scoring 119 in the drawn opening practice game against India ‘A’.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann, first-choice wicket-keeper Matt Prior and pace bowlers James Anderson and Steve Finn were the others making way.

Opener Joe Root, Bairstow, seamer Graham Onions and left-arm spinner Monty Panesar were brought in.

Surrey pace bowler Stuart Meaker was called up later on Saturday by England as cover for Finn, who has a thigh injury.

The Mumbai ‘A’ side consists of second-string players from the city with two players from other teams — batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan — receiving a special invitation to play.

Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Ajinkya Rahane and most other top Mumbai players are playing in the domestic Ranji Trophy tournament. Tendulkar scored 137 on Friday in the ongoing game against Railways, striking form following his recent struggles in Test cricket.

Summarised scores: ENGLAND 338-6 (Jonny Bairstow 118, Eoin Morgan 76, Samit Patel 59 not out; Kshemal Waingankar 2-68, Javed Khan 2-75) v MUMBAI ‘A’.—AP

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