Ajinkya Rahane hit a fine unbeaten century, while Cheteshwar Pujara also scored a gritty fifty as India A took on Australia A in the first tour game in Sydney ahead of the Australia-India Test series. The two veteran batsmen helped India A recover from three early wickets as they reached 237/8 at stumps on Day 1 of the three-day match. While Pujara fell for 54, India’s Test vice-captain Rahane batted on till the end of day’s play, scoring 108 with 16 boundaries and one six.
Rahane, who is captaining the India A side, won the toss and chose to bat. But India A were in trouble early, as Shubman Gill fell in the second over of the game for a duck. His fellow opener Prithvi Shaw did not fare any better, as he was also dismissed without adding to the team’s score.
Hanuma Vihari scored 15, before he was trapped leg before by Australia pacer Jackson Bird.
Pujara and Rahane then added 76 runs before the former was dismissed by pacer James Pattinson.
Rahane held the fort for the team from one end as wickets fell at the other. Wriddhiman Saha fell for a duck, while Ravichandran Ashwin scored 5.
Kuldeep Yadav offered some resistance, playing out 78 deliveries and scoring 15.
Umesh Yadav tried to play a counter-attacking knock, scoring 24 off 18. Mohammed Siraj held on to his wicket, staying unbeaten without scoring a run off five deliveries.
With India’s Test captain and batting talisman Virat Kohli set to return to India after the first Test against Australia, and opener Rohit Sharma a doubt for the series, the knocks from Rahane and Pujara will give the team confidence.
In the absence of Kohli and Rohit, Rahane and Pujara will be key with the bat for India, as they look to defend the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
During India’s last tour of Australia in 2018-19, Pujara hit three centuries to help the visitors record a historic first-ever Test series win Down Under.
The Test series is slated to begin on December 17 with the day-night Test in Adelaide, followed by matches at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
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