India A battled back with the bat on day two of their four-day match against South Africa A, reaching the close of play on 125/1 to trail the hosts’ first innings score by 384 runs at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
South Africa A had earlier racked up a massive 509/7 declared in their first innings, thanks to half-centuries from Sinethemba Qeshile, who looked immaculate in hitting an unbeaten 82 off 112 balls (10×4; 2×6), and George Linde, who made 51 off 80 (9×4).
At the start of play, SA A had resumed their first innings on 343/3, with captain Pieter Malan (163) and Jason Smith (52) at the crease, looking to kick on and take their side to a big total.
However, having added just seven runs to the score, Smith was caught by Baba Aparajth off the bowling of Arzan Nagwaswalla to end their 119-run partnership, with Malan following in the next over, caught behind by keeper Upendra Yadav off the bowling of Navdeep Saini.
This reduced the hosts to 350/5 and would have given the visitors hope of running through the middle and lower order, however Qeshile and Linde then had other ideas as they combined for an impressive 102-run sixth wicket stand.
Having taken SA A safely to lunch, the batters kicked on into the afternoon making their way over the 450-run mark before Linde was stumped by Yadav off Rahul Chahar to end the partnership.
Marco Jansen (17) then joined Qeshile and they added 35 to the total before Jansen was run out, with Lutho Sipamla (five not out) coming in for a bit before SA A decided to declare their innings, with Qeshile 18 runs short of what would have been a good hundred.
India A then got their first innings off to a flying start as opener Prithvi Shaw slammed nine boundaries in racing to 48 off 45 balls before he was caught behind by keeper Qeshile off Sipamla, with the tourists on 80/1.
Captain Priyank Panchal (45 not out) and Abhimanyu Easwaran (27 not out) safely guided their team to the close of play without further trouble.