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.
On a slow deck, it was left-arm spinners Krunal Pandya (4/21 in 5.5 overs) and Axar Patel (2/26 in overs) who inflicted bulk of the damage.
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 has been an absolute failure, the Karnataka opener didn't do his case any good on his 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 have 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.
Brief Scores: India A 172 in 47.1 overs (Deepak Chahar 39 off 65 balls, Ishan Kishan 30 off 63, Krunal Pandya 21 off 23, Jamie Overton 3/34).
England Lions 112 in 30.5 overs (Ben Duckett 39, Ollie Pope 27, Krunal Pandya 4/21, Axar Patel 2/26). India A won by 60 runs. Lead 5-match series 3-0....