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Batter day for India

Batsmen, led by Tendulkar, dish out a solid reply to allay doubts that might have crept into the India camp after the forgettable first day in Canberra. Rohit Bhaskar reports.Sum total

cricket Updated: Dec 17, 2011 01:36 IST
Rohit Bhaskar

Even before the first ball of the match had been bowled, Sachin Tendulkar's name was resonating through the Manuka Oval. The fans had been chanting the Master Blaster's name arbitrarily. He could be fielding at first slip or at the boundary; he could be walking back to the dressing room after a session or heading out for the next one. Any reason was good enough, sometimes a reason wasn't required.

The loudest cheer, however, was saved for when he came out to do what he does best - bat. As he walked out at the fall of Gautam Gambhir's wicket on Friday, the echo of his name was reverberating through the quaint ground. For the next few hours Sachin gave the 2000-odd fans something to cheer about hitting some trademark shots as he raced away to 92, studded with 15 classy hits to fence.

After the tea session, Tendulkar and partner VVS Laxman, who'd himself struck an elegant 57, both retired hurt to give the other batsman a hit. When Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli walked out to bat in the post-tea session, guess which cheer greeted them? No prizes for guessing!

Tendulkar's masterful knock and fine half-tons from VVS and Rohit Sharma guided the Indians to 320/6 in the second and final day of their opening warm-up match against the CA Chairman's XI.

India started on the back foot losing opener Ajinkya Rahane in the second over of the day, as he was caught at gully of Jake Haberfield. Opener Gautam Gambhir and stand-in captain Rahul Dravid then firmed up and took the score to 74/1 before both fell within the next thirty runs.

Then Tendulkar and Laxman took centrestage, flaying the bowling around with utmost ease, before both retired hurt during following the tea session.

Middle-order battle
Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, the two men fighting for one middle-order spot, came out next. Kohli failed to make the most of his opportunity, as he was caught and bowled by leg-spinner Cameron Boyce.

Rohit, however, made the most of his chance as he and Wriddhiman Saha added an unbeaten 74 runs.

Asked after his innings, if another good outing in the next warm-up from Dec. 19-21, could see him edge out Kohli ahead of the Boxing Day Test, Rohit said, "Yes, there's competition between us, but I'm more focused on my game, and I want to do all I can to be prepared when I do make my debut."