England A suffer humiliating defeat

England A 377 & 297-8 South Zone 174 and 503-4 South Zone win by six wkts
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The Independent Online

England A suffered a humiliating defeat as an unbeaten double century by Yalaka Venugopal Rao carried South Zone past a target of 501 to win by six wickets here yesterday.

An attack led by Simon Jones, the fast bowler called up for England's senior tour of the Caribbean, were left impotent as South Zone resumed on an overnight 171 for 2 to record the fourth-highest last-innings total to win a first-class match.

Rao made 228 not out, Sridharan Sriram 117 and Subramaniam Badrinath 100 not out. Sriram shared a third-wicket stand of 226 with Rao before he was caught behind off the pace bowler Sajid Mahmood after hitting 13 fours in 136 balls. Graham Napier dismissed Sridharan Sharath (28) but Badrinath joined Rao for an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 212 as South Zone reached 503 for 4, Badrinath scoring 13 fours off 166 balls.

England A had controlled the match for most of the first three days and reduced South Zone to 1 for 2 as they began the run-chase. But Rao, a former Under-19 World Cup-winner, hit 32 boundaries in his seven hours and 37 minutes at the crease.

Rao and Sriram carried on when they had left off the previous evening, scoring at more than four an over. Jones, who leaves the tour today to join up with the Test team following his recovery from the serious knee injury he suffered in Brisbane in 2002, conceded 89 runs in 13.5 overs without taking a wicket.

The highest fourth-innings total was recorded earlier this year in Sri Lanka when Central Province amassed 513 for 9 against Southern Province.

Rod Marsh, the England A coach, said: "I don't know whether it's arrogance or what, but it's pretty dumb. If they've got any pride, some of them will take a lot of heartache away. Others will have forgotten about it already. That doesn't upset me, but it's going to upset their cricket careers, I think."

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