Ben & Jack hit again after Shami strikes

Sydney, December 13

The Indian team will head into the first Test against Australia with a lot of optimism and happy selection dilemmas, having managed to tick most of the boxes in drawing the day/night practice match against Australia A.

On the third and last day of the match, Australia A — bowled out for 108 in the first innings — gave a better account of themselves. Despite being reduced to 25/3, the home team ended on 305/4 with unbeaten centuries by Ben McDermott (107*) and Jack Wildermuth (111*), who survived a barrage of bouncers under lights from Indian pacers.

In the first hour today, Joe Burns (1) and Marcus Harris (5) — likely openers for the first Test — were removed by Mohammed Shami (2/58 in 13 overs). Burns shuffled across to a straight delivery and was trapped lbw, while Harris flicked the ball straight to leg slip, where Prithvi Shaw was placed for just that show. The lack of runs by Australian openers would make Kohli happy.

McDermott, son of fast bowler Craig McDermott — who was India’s main tormentor on the 1991-92 tour — added 117 runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Alex Carey (58, 111 balls) as they salvaged the innings after three early wickets. Then Wildermuth added 165 runs with McDermott in their unbroken fifth-wicket stand.

McDermott played stylishly and struck some attractive drives on the off-side. He and Wildermuth negotiated the short ball well enough, picking up runs in the process.

For India, Jasprit Bumrah, Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin are likely to start the Test match. Umesh and Ashwin did not play in the second warm-up game, as 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 and rightly conserved their energies for the big battle, allowing back-up pacers Navdeep Saini (0/87) and Mohammed Siraj (1/54) bowl longer spells. — PTI

Brief scores: India 194 & 386/4d (Vihari 104*, Pant 103*, Gill 65); Australia A 108 & 307/4 (Wildermuth 11*, McDermott 107*;

Shami 2/58)

Vihari, Gill, Pant to the fore

Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, watching the proceedings from the dug-out, would be happy with the positives from the game.

Vihari: 15 & 104* 

Hanuma Vihari kept himself in the hunt with a hundred that again reflected his patient approach. With his handy off-breaks, he can be a good option for the sixth specialist batsman’s spot in the side.

But then there is the extremely stylish KL Rahul, who has been sweating it out at the nets under the watchful eyes of his skipper. Rahul gives multiple options to the team, as opener and middle-order batsman.

The fact that he has an experience of 36 Test matches would be a factor too in deciding the team for the first Test, to be played in Adelaide.

Pant: 5 & 103*

Rishabh Pant, after his 73-ball hundred, has put himself in prime position for the wicketkeeper’s job. The selection will be purely on Pant’s ability to turn the game around in a session with his batting, which his Wriddhiman Saha — a better keeper — is not capable of.

Gill: 43 & 65

Shubman Gill’s composure and technique wouldn’t have gone unnoticed in his innings of 43 and 65, compared to Shaw’s loose batting. 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 an international batsman, gives his team a lot of hope.

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