Skipper KL Rahul slowly but surely his regaining his touch with a second successive half-century for India A against England Lions, which will put him firmly in contention for a berth in the senior national team for the upcoming home series against Australia starting February 24.
Rahul scored 89 in the first 'Test' and with this 81, Rahul has now ticked all the boxes that the team management wanted to check ahead of the Australia series where Shikhar Dhawan or Rohit Sharma may be rested.
Courtesy Rahul's 81 and opener Abhimanyu Easwaran's (117) century, India A reached 282 for three on the first day of the second unofficial Test.
Easwaran's superb knock of 117 (222 balls, 13X4, 1X6) and his 178-run opening partnership with Rahul (81, 166 balls, 11X4) provided India A a solid platform.
Easwaran started cautiously while Rahul, back in form with a half-century in the first Test, hit his stride quickly. He played some beautiful shots on both sides of the wicket.
The duo added 82 runs in the first session with Rahul moving to 46 while Easwaran after being on 12 from 36 balls at one stage, caught up with his partner to reach 31 at lunch.
Rahul and Easwaran continued to pick up runs easily as the England bowlers struggled in good batting conditions. The openers piled on the runs and took the score to 169 at the tea break.
However, when it looked like Rahul would go on to a century, he fell to medium-pacer Zak Chappell, for 81. Easwaran, who had overtaken Rahul by then, reached a well-deserved ton in 203 balls.
He was involved in a half-century partnership for the second wicket with Panchal, who looked in good touch, carrying on from his double ton in the Wayanad 'Test.'
Easwaran looked set for a big one before gave spinner Dominic Bess his first wicket, edging one to 'keeper Ollie Pope.
Panchal and Test discard Karun Nair added 30 runs with the latter even hitting a big six before the Gujarat batsman was bowled by medium-pacer Tom Bailey for 50 (88 balls, 7X4).
It was another tough day for the visiting bowlers as Easwaran and Co held sway and they bounced back with wickets late in the day.
Brief scores: India 'A' 282 for 3 in 84.5 overs (AR Easwaran 117, K L Rahul 81, Priyank Panchal 51) vs England Lions.