Thiruvananthapuram: KL Rahul scored only 13 on his return from suspension but India A sealed the series against England Lions with a comfortable 60-run win taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
In a low-scoring encounter, India A could manage only 172 in 47.1 overs but then did well enough to bowl out Lions for 112 in only 30.5 overs.
Left-arm spinners Krunal Pandya (4/21 in 5.5 overs) and Axar Patel (2/26 in overs) inflicted the bulk of the damage on a slow deck.
If Axar dealt the opening blows, man of the match Krunal polished the lower-half after chipping in with useful 21 runs.
Credit should also be given to Deepak Chahar as his 39 off 65 balls took India from 110 for 7 to 172 after skipper Ajinkya Rahane (0) and Rahul were dismissed cheaply at the top of the order.
All eyes were on Rahul, who had a nightmarish two weeks after BCCI's provisional suspension for his comments in TV chat show Koffee with Karan.
Having got a long rope during the tours of England and Australia, where he failed to find form, the Karnataka opener didn't do his case any good on return as he looked completely rusty.
His 13 off 25 balls had two boundaries but he was unable to find the gaps during the Powerplay overs. It was seamer Jamie Overton, who dismissed him, caught by Zachariah Chappell.
Rahul, considered to be a favourite of the Indian team management, will still get two more shots in the ongoing A series.
The team management is still undecided on the reserve opener's slot and Rahane, with scores of 59 and 91 in the first two games, has made a case for himself.
In the final two matches, young Rishabh Pant will be opening the batting as he is also a strong candidate for the World Cup berth.
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