Indian top order makes merry

Virat Kohli
Skipper Virat Kohli made a fine 64. AFP
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Sydney: In-form skipper Virat Kohli (64) and teenage prodigy Prithvi Shaw (66) were among the five Indian batsmen who struck fifties before the visitors were bowled out for 358 on the second day of the rain-hit practice game against Cricket Australia XI here on Thursday.

In response, Cricket Australia XI finished the day at 24/0 in four overs.

For India, Cheteshwar Pujara (54), Ajinkya Rahane (56), and Hanuma Vihari (53) were the others to post half-centuries.

Rain finally relented and the match got under way earlier in the morning with play extended to 98 overs for each of the remaining three days.

Cricket Australia XI won the toss and invited India to bat.

The visitors left out Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Parthiv Patel and Kuldeep Yadav from the 14-man team selected for this practice game that doesn't have first-class status. Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma and Murali Vijay did not get a bat, perhaps in waiting for the second innings.

On account of high moisture in the ground, there was a lack of pace and bounce in the morning, but 19-year-old Shaw set a hectic pace as he hit 11 fours during his 69-ball stay at the crease.

In deep contrast was his opening partner K L Rahul (3), struggling for timing once again, and was out caught at mid-off playing a loose drive off Jackson Coleman (1/45).

Shaw and Pujara then added 80 runs for the second wicket. While the young opener took on the bowling, the latter was his usual sedate self.

Shaw reached his half-century off 52 balls, inclusive of eight fours, but then was bowled trying to sweep Daniel Fallins (1/48).

India went to lunch at 169/2 with Pujara also completing his half-century off 89 balls, and Kohli looking solid as ever on 41.

Kohli, who scored 64 off 87 balls (7x4, 1x6), looked at ease. He reached his half-century off 78 balls.

The duo fell after lunch, with Pujara bowled off an inswinger from Luke Robins (1/59), while 19-year-old Aaron Hardie took the prized scalp of Kohli, accepting a return catch off a drive.

Rahane and Vihari came together thereafter, putting on 81 runs for the fifth wicket.

Vihari looked very comfortable and scored at a quick pace. Rahane, at the other end, took his time and settled down.

Vihari reached his half-century off 75 balls and was out leg-before to D'Arcy Short (1/42) after tea. Rahane continued to prod on and scored a half-century off 115 balls, and then retired for 56 thereafter.

Rohit in good touch

Rohit Sharma too looked in good nick, scoring 40 off 55 balls, including five fours and a six. But India's lower-order folded up without much effort, including Rohit who was caught behind after the new ball was taken.

R Ashwin (0) was caught behind down the leg side, while Mohammed Shami was also caught behind for a three-ball duck.

Hardie finished with 4/50 with last man Umesh Yadav run out.

Rishabh Pant was unbeaten on 11 not out. Pant had a good hit in the nets during the first session.

Also, the Australian pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood were spotted in the SCG nets on Thursday morning, going through the paces ahead of the first Test starting in Adelaide on December 6.

The two teams won a match each for a tied three-match T20 series, the second game of which was abandoned due to rain.

Brief scores: India 358 all out in 92 overs (Virat Kohli 64, Prithvi Shaw 66; Aaron Hardie 4/50) vs Cricket Australia XI 1st Innings: 24/0 in 4 overs.

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