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Kohli, Pujara among runs

Kohli, Pujara among runs
India made a positive start to their tour of Australia after rounding off the practice game against Cricket Australia XI with an allround performance as the two-day match ended in a draw on Tuesday. At the Gliderol Stadium, the visitors finished at 363/8 declared after 91 overs in reply to the hosts’ first-day total of 219 all out.

After the Indian bowlers, led by Varun Aaron, made full use of the seamer-friendly conditions, it was the turn of their batsmen to get in some good batting practice and get versed with the conditions on offer ahead of the four-Test series starting in Brisbane on December 4.

Skipper Virat Kohli top-scored on the day with 60 runs, while Murali Vijay (51), Cheteshwar Pujara (55), Wriddhiman Saha (56 not out) and Karn Sharma (55 not out) scored half-centuries. Suresh Raina (44) and Rohit Sharma (23) were also among runs.

The day began with Vijay and Pujara at the crease and they were intent on making good use of the conditions. They batted without any discomfort and duly notched up their half-centuries in good time, in total putting on 85 runs for the second wicket. Both batsmen retired after getting their respective fifties.

Ajinkya Rahane (1) was the only frontline batsman to have missed out on the day, as he was dismissed by 16-year-old Sam Grimwade, thanks to a diving low catch at mid-off by Ryan Carters.
Sharma then came to the crease and added 47 runs with Kohli before lunch but he fell just before the break. After lunch, Kohli and Raina batted with ease and pushed the score past the hosts’ first innings total. Raina was a touch aggressive, especially against the slower bowlers, and perished in the same attacking manner.

Kohli got passed his fifty-run mark but didn’t look in the mood to retire and continued batting. But shortly after, he got out to uncharacteristic aggressive stroke, stepping out to the bowler only to be caught at midwicket. R Ashwin (6) missed out on some batting practice as he offered a simple return catch.

But Saha and Sharma didn’t waste this chance to impress, the latter particularly harsh on the bowlers as he struck his runs off only 55 balls, inclusive of five fours and two sixes. On day one of this tour game, Varun Aaron picked up 3-72 while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami chipped in with two wickets each to restrict the hostsin 71.5 overs.

Afterwards opener Shikhar Dhawan (10) was dismissed cheaply as India had finished at 55/1. India’s second and final practice match before the Test series is scheduled to start on Friday at the Adelaide Oval. It will be a two-day affair again with the Cricket Australia Invitational XI team.

Australian skipper Michael Clarke, who was asked by the national selectors to prove his fitness by playing in that tour game, has since been ruled out, leading to the assumption that he will be missing when the series gets underway next week at the Brisbane cricket ground.
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