Ishant, Zaheer test fitness in practice match

India's injury-prone pacers Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma allayed some fitness worries about them when they bowled short spells on the final day of a practice match against Cricket Australia Chairman's XI here today.

Unsure as to whether the two new-ball bowlers, would be fit for the opening Test against Australia next week, the Indian team management, most possibly at the prodding of coach Duncan Fletcher, declared their second innings at 90 for 2 this morning to have a real-time assessment of their fitness.

By doing so, Indians didn't mind taking the risk of losing the ultimately-drawn three-day match to Chairman's XI as the hosts had now only 146 runs to get in over two sessions of play to win the match. While Sharma was laid low on the first morning of the two-day game against Chairman's XI last week, after bowling only 5.3 overs, troubled by his left ankle, Zaheer, at best, had bowled only gingerly in the nets and in the ongoing match.

Rather than wait till closer to the opening Test, the Indian team think-tank decided to have a first hand evidence on the fitness of its two premier fast bowlers. It must be said that both Zaheer and Ishant bowled within themselves, never going full blast.

Both were seen to avoid putting too much load on their front legs at the point of delivery. Ishant was not even in the original 13 of the match but the way he has progressed on the last two days, India were encouraged to try him out in a match-situation.

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