The day-night warm-up game between Australia ‘A’ and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground ended in a draw on Sunday.
Australia ‘A’ gave a better account of itself on an eased out third-day track, despite being reduced to 25 for 3, ending on 305 for 4, riding on Ben McDermott and Jack Wildermuth’s centuries. Both batsmen survived a barrage of bouncers under lights from Indian fast bowlers. The talented McDermott (107 off 167 balls) - son of Craig McDermott who was India’s tormentor during the forgettable 1991-92 series - and captain Alex Carey (58, 111 balls) added 117 runs in a counter-attacking fourth-wicket partnership to partially save the game.
HIGHLIGHTS | AUSA v IND
The four-Test series gets underway from December 17 in Adelaide.
Rookie Wildermuth (111 off 119 balls) also got his century and added 165 runs with McDermott, but Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, watching the proceedings from the dugout, will be happy with multiple options that emerged from the game. In the first hour itself, the probable first Test opening pair of Joe Burns (1) and Marcus Harris (5) was sent back by Mohammed Shami (2 for 58 in 13 overs).
While out-of-form Burns shuffled across to a straight delivery and was caught plumb in front, Harris was set up nicely with a leg-slip and his flick landed into Prithvi Shaw’s hands stationed for that particular shot. The lack of runs from the two openers will certainly increase the Australian team’s worries.
Shubman Gill’s composure and technique opening the innings wouldn’t have gone unnoticed compared to Shaw’s loose batting during his two knocks in the game. There is a lot of time at Gill’s disposal and the upright stance with an ability to get his body behind the line of the ball like any top international batsman does, gives his team a lot of hope going into the series.
Century for Vihari
Similarly, Hanuma Vihari strongly kept himself in the hunt with a hundred that again reflected his patient approach. With his handy off-breaks - one such delivery got rid of Carey - he can be a good option for the sixth specialist batsman’s spot in the side. But then there is the stylish K. L. Rahul, who has been sweating it out at the nets under the watchful eyes of his skipper.
Rahul gives multiple options both as an opener and a middle-order batsman.
The fact that he has experience of 36 Test matches won’t be lost on the decision-makers when they sit back and pick the playing XI for the Adelaide opener. If the day-night warm-up game is any indicator, then Rishabh Pant, after his 73-ball hundred, will be the primary contender for donning the big gloves.
As far as the bowling is concerned, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and R. Ashwin look all set to start the Test match.
While Umesh and Ashwin were not played in the second warm-up game. It was more about checking the other pacers and letting Bumrah and Shami add miles to their legs. On the third day, both bowled 13 overs each respectively and rightly conserved their energies for the big battle allowing back-up pacers Navdeep Saini (0 for 87 in 16 overs) and Mohammed Siraj (1 for 54 in 17 overs) bowl longer spells without much success.
McDermott looked a stylish player with some attractive drives on the off-side and Wildermuth under lights negotiated the short ball well enough, picking up a few runs in the process.
- India 194 and 386 for 4 dec. drew with Australia ‘A’ 108 and 307 for 4 (Wildermuth 111 n.o., McDermott 107 n.o., Carey 58).
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