Overcast conditions and the pace duo of Peter George and Jake Haberfield threatened to make life difficult for India's batsmen on the second and final day of the first-warm-up match here at the Manuka Oval yesterday.
After opener Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed in the second over of the morning session, acting captain Rahul Dravid nearly registered a golden duck when he poked at a wide ball from Jake Haberfield. At the stage, head coach Duncan Fletcher must have said to himself, "This is what we need � our batters must be put through a test before the first Test match."
Sachin Tendulkar at Manuka Oval in Canberra yesterday. Pic/AFP
VVS Laxman in full flow against Cricket Australia Chairman's XI at
Manuka Oval in Canberra yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
However, a barrage of over pitched deliveries and misdirected bouncers gave India's batsmen the liberty of driving, pulling and cutting at ease, the game made to appear like a county or village game. Dravid and Gautam Gambhir, who rarely drive until settled, did so, gorgeously through the off-side. Gambhir though fell abruptly when he spooned a catch to opposition skipper Ryan Broad to cover off Glenn Maxwell. Quickly after that, Dravid holed out to mid-on off leg-spinner Cameron Boyce.
Later, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were unforgiving on the ordinary display from the CA Chairman's XI bowlers. Tendulkar, constantly egged by the small but vocal Indian contingent at the ground, even when he simply played with a dead bat, went into lunch 13 not out before unleashing in the second session -- facing 132 balls for 92 runs with 15 boundaries.
Tendulkar and Laxman combined for 133 runs before retiring at the tea interval -- giving Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli an opportunity. The latter joined Rahane as the only other batsman to fail, out for one caught and bowled by Boyce. Rohit and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha were the unbeaten batsmen when rain forced play to be abandoned. India had reached 320 for six in reply to the hosts' 398-6.
Boyce, 22, who got two wickets, said it was an honour to bowl at his childhood heroes Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid. "Tendulkar has been so good for so long. To bowl to someone like him, and to Laxman and Dravid as well, was a fantastic experience for me. We all enjoy seeing these blokes," he said. "The way they use their hands � they play late.
That's incredible skill. I don't think I have been played in the backward point area as many times during my entire career as I was today. The footwork they possess � the little things they do, it was a lesson for me," he added. One way or another, it was a good day out for the Indian batsmen -- especially the big three -- who are perhaps on their final tour to Australia.