Rain dampens India's plans

2011-12-19 10:52

Canberra - India's top order, without prized batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, struggled on the first morning of their tour match against a Chairman's XI in rainy Canberra on Monday.

India won the toss and chose to bat first at Manuka Oval but were quickly reduced to 84 for four after the start of play in the three-day match was hit by a near three-hour rain delay.

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma later steadied the ship with an unbeaten 78-run stand to guide India to 162 for four at stumps.

Opener Virender Sehwag lasted less than four overs before he was caught by Alex Doolan for 12 off lanky paceman Peter George.

Ajinkya Rahane was next to go, caught by Usman Khawaja off quick Josh Lalor for 15, with opener Gautam Gambhir trudging off three overs later after being bowled by Jason Behrendorff.

Vangipurappu Laxman, long Australia's tormenter, was bowled for 15 by Victorian spinner Jon Holland as the quartet missed out on time at the crease ahead of the first of four-tests against Australia starting on Dec. 26 in Melbourne.

India paceman Ishant Sharma was not named in the 11 to bat after bowling less than six overs in the team's two-day tour match in Canberra last week before leaving the field.

Sharma's fitness remains in doubt amid reports of a troublesome ankle, although Indian team officials said he had not sustained any injury during the tour match.

Indian media reports have speculated that a player will be flown out to Australia to cover for Sharma if he is ruled out of the Boxing Day test.

The Chairman's XI includes a number of Australian batsmen eager to prove themselves with a big score. Local media have billed the match as a shoot-out for a test place between out-of-form opener Phillip Hughes and the untried Ed Cowan, who was drafted into the side after Shaun Marsh was sidelined with injury.

Top order batsmen Usman Khawaja and David Warner, a Twenty20 specialist who scored a century in his second test against New Zealand in Hobart, are also jostling for a spot in the first test, with all rounder Shane Watson expected to return.