India A 170 for 3 (Patidar 45*, Gaikwad 41, Rippon 1-28) beat New Zealand A 167 (Rippon 61, Thakur 4-32, Sen 3-30) by seven wickets
After asking the visitors to bat, Thakur – who had replaced the injured Prasidh Krishna in the squad – struck in his second over on a pitch that had pace and bounce on offer, cleaning up opener Chad Bowes for 10. Known for his outswingers and nip-backers, Thakur soon after removed Dane Cleaver with a short ball, forcing him to pull only to be caught at fine leg after a top edge.
Sen, making his debut for India A, bowled in tandem with the senior quick to trap No. 3 Joe Carter leg before wicket. That was the third wicket of a collapse which saw New Zealand A slide from 14 without loss to 74 for 8 in a span of 16 overs.
But Walker was run-out in the 39th over, and it took India A less than more overs to bowl New Zealand A out, as Thakur ended with 4 for 32 – including getting Rippon out last – while Sen returned figures of 3 for 30.
A below-par score on a batting-friendly pitch was never going to pose a threat, and India A made short work of the chase.
After Prithvi Shaw perished for 17, Ruturaj Gaikwad and No. 3 Rahul Tripathi, who got 31, stitched 56 runs. Gaikwad’s three fours and two clean sixes helped him accumulate 41 before he was caught-and-bowled by Rippon.
But an entertaining partnership followed between India A captain Sanju Samson and the in-form Rajat Patidar. Samson was welcomed with a rousing cheer from the 200-odd spectators as the pair put on an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 69 to chase down the target with seven wickets and more than 19 overs to spare.
Samson remained unbeaten on 29 – including hitting three sixes – while Patidar, who punished the bowlers whenever they went full, struck a quick 45 off 41 balls. His knock included seven boundaries.
The second of the three one-dayers will take place on Sunday at the same venue, with the visitors now in a must-win situation to remain alive in the series