Reifer heroics futile as Windies A lose again
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NORTH SOUND, Antigua, (CMC) – Raymon Reifer’s defiant half-century went in vain as West Indies A produced another inept batting display to slip to their second defeat in four days to India A here Sunday.

In pursuit of 256 at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, West Indies a slumped to 190 all out in the 44th over, to lose by 65 runs and fall behind 2-0 in the five-match one-day series.

Tottering on 108 for seven in the 30th over, Reifer, promoted to number three, stroked a top score of 71 to rescue some pride for the hosts.

Tail-ender Romario Shepherd hit an accomplished unbeaten 34 while Sunil Ambris got 24, but the Windies A top order failed once again in a spineless display.

The innings was wrecked by fast bowler Navdeep Saini who claimed five for 46 while leg-spinner Rahul Chahar supported with two for 47.

India A had earlier gathered 255 for eight off their 50 overs after being sent in, with Ruturaj Gaikwad top-scoring with 85 and opening partner Shubman Gill stroking 62.

Captain Manish Pandey got 27, wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan chipped in with 24 while Hanuma Vihari struck 23.

Fast bowler Shepherd was the leading wicket-taker with four for 36.

Looking to level the series following their meltdown in Thursday’s opening one-dayer at Coolidge Cricket Ground, West Indies A were immediately put on the back foot as Gaikwad and Gill put on 151 for the first wicket.

The 22-year-old Gaikwad faced 102 balls and struck five fours and two sixes while Gill counted four fours and a six off 83 deliveries.

Shepherd trapped Gill lbw in the 31st over to break the stand and his departure triggered a slide that saw India lose three wickets for two runs in the space of 10 balls.

Pandey and Vihari rebuild in a 59-run fourth wicket partnership but West Indies A kept the brakes on the innings and the visitors were unable to accelerate at the death.

The hosts were then set back early when impressive left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed removed left hander John Campbell for five with the score on 11 at the end of the second over.

Reifer and Ambris steadied the innings, however, putting on 36 for the second wicket as West Indies A started to find their touch.

Ambris had struck three fours in a 31-ball knock when he was lbw for the second match in a row, hit in front by Navdeep at 47 for two in the 12th over.

The wheels then suddenly came off the West Indies A innings as six wickets tumbled for 61 runs. Captain Roston Chase edged a cut at Chahar and was caught at the wicket for two in the 13th over and left-hander Jonathan Carter (10) sliced Navdeep to Chahar on the ropes at third man in the 18th over.

With no addition to the score, Rovman Powell gloved the second ball he faced from Navdeep and was caught at the wicket without scoring, at 77 for five, and Test wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich lasted eight balls for his five runs before he was spectacularly yorked by Navdeep, leaving the innings in disarray.

The left-handed Reifer then staged a recovery, punching seven fours and three sixes in an innings lasting 103 deliveries.

Crucially, he put on 24 for the seventh wicket with Rahkeem Cornwall (13) before adding a further 69 for the eighth wicket with Shepherd.

Reifer started cautiously before blossoming to reach his half-century in style, carting Chahar over long on for six and then lifting him over square leg for a four two balls later.

With the partnership beginning to threaten, he was run out by Axar Patel’s direct hit from gully in a mix up over a single with Shepherd in the 41st over, ending West Indies A’s hopes of a comeback win.

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