Indian stars Dhoni, Zaheer, Sehwag, Ashwin are certain to play the last warm-up tie against the CA Chairman's XI ahead of the Boxing Day Test
It's the last dash, not just for India, but even for a few aspiring Australians, before next week's Boxing Day Test. The visitors are likely to field a first-choice team sans injured Ishant Sharma when they take on CA Chairman's XI in the final warm-up tie here at the Manuka Oval starting today.
Aussie batsman Ed Cown during a first-class tie recently. Pic/getty
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag and Ravichandran Ashwin -- who skipped the previous warm-up game last week -- are all certain to play. Although all eyes will be on Zaheer, who is returning from injury after playing a couple of first-class matches back home. Sehwag, fresh from his ODI double ton, too would be looking to get into rhythm ahead of the Melbourne Test. Sehwag had thumped a 195 at the same venue during the 2003-04 series.
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Unlike the Indian management that has essentially finalised its playing XI for the Melbourne Test, their Australian counterparts will be picking their squad based on the outcome of this warm-up fixture. Phillip Hughes, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Ed Cowan, Doug Bollinger and Trent Copeland are all vying for places in Australia's Test squad that will be announced two days ahead of the first Test.
Cowan said that the series will be decided between India's batsmen and Australia's quick bowlers. "I am not sure if the Indian batsmen have had a good look-in at our quick bowlers. That's where the series will probably be decided on -- Indian batsmen versus Aussie quicks," the Tasmanian opener said. However, heavy rains are forecasted for today. That could spoil the party for both teams.
Chairman's XI: David Warner (captain), Jason Behrendorff, Doug Bollinger, Cameron Boyce, Ed Cowan, Tom Cooper, Alex Doolan, Peter George, Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Josh Lalor, Tim Ludeman, Ben Oakley.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag (vc), Ravichandran Ashwin, Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, VVS Laxman, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav