Ahmedabad, Jan 20 (PTI) Kona Bharat made a strong case for his selection for the first Test against England with an attacking hundred as India A made hot pursuit of an improbable winning target of 490 before the opening first-class game against England Lions ended in a draw, here Saturday.
When umpires called off proceedings on the fourth and final day, India were 426 for 5 in 125 overs, eventually finishing 64 runs short of the target.
Bharat, whose batting performances left a lot to be desired in Test matches, made 116 not out off 165 balls with 15 boundaries.
With India looking to give relief to KL Rahul from keeping wickets, Bharat's century would come as a big relief for his greatest backer, head coach Rahul Dravid, who has been bullish about playing the Andhra player in Tests despite his below-par batting record.
Manav Suthar, who came in as night-watchman on third evening, remained unbeaten on a dogged 89 off 254 balls with 16 boundaries -- 10 of which came off left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson (3/182).
While B Sai Sudharsan (97 off 208 balls) missed out on a hundred, Bharath-Suthar duo took full advantage of flat deck adding 207 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket stand in 54.5 overs. The only wicket to fall on the day was southpaw Sudharsan.
On the final day, England Lions skipper Josh Bohanon mainly bowled with his spinners -- Parkinson and off-break bowler Jack Carson (0/74 in 21 overs).
Bharat was solid on both flanks as nine off his 15 fours came off the two spinners and were mostly hit on the on-side. He got an able ally in Suthar, who applied himself well and by tea time, even England Lions knew that they have lost an opportunity to win a first-class game on an Indian track.
Brief Scores: England Lions 553 and 163/6 decl.
India 227 and 425/6 in 125 overs (Kona Bharat 116 not out, Manav Suthar 89 not out).
Match Drawn. PTI KHS KHS AT AT