CRICKET: Wells on the brink of Test triumph

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India A 229 and 156

England A 209 and 146-8

Win, lose - or tie - Alan Wells' England A side will be able to hold their heads high today after a triumphant three-Test series in India. Needing 177 to complete a 3-0 whitewash of India A, England finished a tense fourth day in Chandigarh yesterday on 146 for 8 - a tantalising 31 runs from their target.

Richard Johnson is the main hope because the 20-year-old Middlesex seamer has already reached 18 not out with a mixture of some forthright blows and sound defence. Supporting him this morning will be Min Patel, who resumes on 8, with the last man, Richard Stemp, waiting in the pavilion.

But if India A prise out the last two wickets to pull back to 2-1 in the series, it should deflect nothing from the young England side's success story during the past month. Several players have pushed themselves firmly into senior England contention andJohn Barclay, the A tour manager, said: "There have been three excellent Test matches and we played well enough to win both the first two games.

"Here the pitch has deteriorated far quicker than at the other venues and it made batting very difficult indeed today.

"But what should be remembered is that we have lost the toss in each Test - and to have won the series from that position is a very sizeable achievement. India must be disappointed that they have not made more of a massive advantage in all three games."

Paul Weekes, who hit 38, and the captain Wells (23) both batted with great skill in a fourth-wicket stand of 43 - Weekes hitting a six and five fours before charging and missing the off-spinner Kanwaljit Singh. Wells, too, perished down the pitch, his drive being defeated by Singh's turn and clever flight.

Keith Piper was upset to be given out caught behind, the ball from the left-arm spinner Utpal Chatterjee clipping his shoulder - and not the shoulder of the bat - as it turned past his push.

The opener Nick Knight felt he had squeezed the ball into the ground before it jumped up to silly point off his pads, but both Jason Gallian and Dominic Cork will want to forget the shots which brought their downfall.

David Hemp lifted a drive to short extra cover and Glen Chapple spoiled a bright start to his innings by chasing a widish ball and edging to slip.

(Fourth day; India A won toss)

INDIA A - First Innings 229 (R S Dravid 59; G Chapple 4-60).

ENGLAND A - First Innings 209 (P L K Mhambrey 4-63).

INDIA A - Second Innings (Overnight: 136 for 8)

A A Muzmumbar b Chapple 55

K Singh c Stemp b Patel 2

A Padmanabhan not out 6

Extras (b3 lb1 w1 nb1) 6

Total (76.2 overs) 156

Fall (cont): 9-136.

Bowling: Cork 10-4-26-1; Chapple 19.2-3-38-5; Patel 31-12-43-3; Johnson 8-0-22-0; Stemp 8-1-23-0.

ENGLAND A - Second Innings J E R Gallian c Ganguly b Chatterjee 9

N V Knight c Shamshed b Singh 21

D L Hemp c Dravid b Singh 5

*A P Wells b Singh 23

P N Weekes st Vaidya b Singh 38

D G Cork lbw b Chatterjee 7

K J Piper c Vaidya b Chatterjee 1

G Chapple c Shamshed b Mhambrey 12

R L Johnson not out 18

M M Patel not out 8

Extras (lb3 nb1) 4

Total (for 8, 76 overs) 146

Fall: 1-20 2-37 3-38 4-81 5-92 6-108 7-108 8-127.

To bat: R D Stemp.

Bowling (to date): Mhambrey 13-4-22-1; Ganguly 5-2-9-0; Chatterjee 28-11-57-3; Singh 26-13-42-4; Padmanabhan 4-0-13-0.

Umpires: K Parthasarthy and P R Choudhary.