Bowling a big worry and other things learned for India from Cricket Australia XI draw

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India wrapped up their preparations for the upcoming Test series against Australia with a tame draw in the sole warm-up tour game against a Cricket Australia XI in Sydney.

The tourists were made to toil, especially with the ball, as the CA XI led by Sam Whiteman put in a strong showing against the No1 ranked Test outfit.

The three days of action at the Sydney Cricket Ground will have taught the Indian team plenty about their squad ahead of the Test battle with the Aussies.

Here, we look at the three major things learned for Virat Kohli and his men.

ROHIT OR VIHARI QUESTION VEXES INDIA

While the middle-order looks fairly settled for India heading into the Test series with Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, question marks remain over the No6 position.

India currently have two contenders for that role in the form of Hanuma Vihari and Rohit Sharma who was handed a shock Test recall for the series. While Vihari is a newcomer to the international fold with just one Test under his belt, he was a consistent performer on the domestic circuit for his former state team Andhra Pradesh over the course of the past year.

Rohit, on the other hand, has been given opportunities aplenty in the Test format but has failed to grab it every single time with his inconsistencies.

Both batsmen were given a run in the tour game and performed nearly identically with Rohit scoring 40 in the first innings while Vihari registered a half-century.

As such, the team management is no closer to deciding between the pair and who takes the field at the Adelaide Oval remains anyone’s guess.

Rohit Sharma is locked in a tussle with Vihari for the No6 slot.

Rohit Sharma is locked in a tussle with Vihari for the No6 slot.

BOWLING A HUGE WORRY

India arrived on Australian shores with an impressive pace unit in tow but, after their shortcomings, have been laid bare in just one practice game. Despite facing a CA XI unit comprised of many newcomers with barely any first-class experience, India’s bowlers were put through the grind as the hosts amassed 544 runs in their first innings.

Mohammed Shami (3-97) was the pick of India’s bowlers and even he went at more than four runs an over against the inexperienced hosts. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav had to toil for 50 overs combined to share two wickets between them while Ravichandran Ashwin picked up just the two scalps after throwing down 40 overs of his off-spin.

Jasprit Bumrah was used with caution, bowling only seven deliveries for his one wicket, but the rest of India’s bowlers looked toothless on a slow pitch with not much assistance on offer for the pacers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, meanwhile, was not given a bowl at all.

Kohli will hope that there is more aid for his bowlers at the Adelaide Oval or else India could be in trouble big time.

Not much luck for India's pacers.

There was not much luck for India’s pacers.

VIJAY AND RAHUL FIND TIMELY FORM AFTER SHAW SETBACK

Day three of the tour game brought India a severe setback they could have done without as Prithvi Shaw limped off the field in agony after injuring his ankle. The young opening batsman has now been ruled out of the opening Test and could be a big doubt for the second.

Kohli would have been banking on the attacking youngster to get India off to some flying starts in the series but he will now have to look at other avenues for the opening slot.

Luckily for the Indian skipper, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul have found some form at just the right time. The two openers were on song in the second innings on Saturday with Rahul carving a much more fluent 62 while Vijay struck a quick-fire century.

Rahul had been in woeful form for some time while Vijay has only been recalled to the Indian Test team after being dropped from the squad following his horrendous showing in England. India do have the option of calling up Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal as a replacement for Shaw but Vijay’s experience and Rahul’s talent could be just what they need for the Test battle against the hosts.

Timely knocks by Vijay an Rahul in India's second innings.

There were timely knocks by Vijay and Rahul in India’s second innings.

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