Sydney: India lost two early wickets in their search for valuable batting practice on Thursday ahead of next week's opening Test against Australia.
The tourists reached 99 for two at the close on the opening day of their two-day match in reply to a Cricket Australia XI's 243 at Gliderol Stadium in Adelaide. Murali Vijay, dropped on five, was unbeaten on 39 and stand-in skipper Virat Kohli, put down on the first ball he faced, was not out on 30.
Vijay, Kohli and Rohit Sharma all attended Wednesday's funeral of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes in Macksville, New South Wales. Hughes, who had played 26 Tests and was on the cusp of a recall, died from bleeding on the brain after being hit by a rising ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground during a domestic match on November 25.
The Indian tourists all put their bats out against the picket fence at the Adelaide ground and both teams observed a minute's silence before the start of Thursday's game. Players and umpires wore black armbands.
India's top order was trumped by New South Wales left-arm paceman Josh Lalor ahead of Tuesday's rescheduled first Test at the Adelaide Oval. The tourists restricted the CA XI with Varun Aaron and Mohammed Shami both proving a handful, especially with the new ball as the hosts collapsed to 34 for three. Aaron claimed four for 41 and leg-spinner Karn Sharma took three for 57.
But their efforts were undermined by an underwhelming batting response with India recovering from 36 for two to reach stumps at 99 for two. Shikhar Dhawan, one of two Indian batsmen denied a decent hit in last week's fixture at the same venue, this time went for a golden duck.
Dhawan clipped a full ball from Lalor off his pads straight to Jonte Pattison. Lalor then dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara in the 11th over, with the No.3 batsman edging to first slip Ashton Turner for 22. The next ball presented Turner with a more regulation chance but he dropped the chance giving Kohli a big reprieve. Aaron and Shami, who claimed a total of six wickets, were at least a source of early joy for the tourists.
"Both openers bowled with quite good pace. There was quite good carry in that wicket too," said Jordan Silk, who scored 58. "Shami's short ball was quite quick and a few of our guys found it a little bit challenging."
Injured India captain MS Dhoni is expected to arrive on Friday morning, but an team spokesperson said it was too early to say what were his chances of playing in the first Test.
Cricket Australia XI 243 (J. Silk 58, S. Gotch 58 not out; V. Aaron 4-41, K. Sharma 3-57)
India 99 for 2 (M. Vijay 39 not out, V. Kohli 30 not out).