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Now, for the Tests

cricket Updated: Sep 27, 2010 23:41 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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The action, if it could be called that, was spread over two cricket grounds in Chandigarh on Monday. At the Sector 16 Stadium, in the heart of the city, the three-day match between the Australians and Board President's XI petered into an inevitable draw. Ajinkya Rahane helped himself to a 103-ball century as the Australians bowled for as long as the stipulations allowed.

For the record, the Australians declared twice, their first innings on 505 for 8 and the second on 187 for 6 declared. Shane Watson matched his first-dig effort with 104 in the second outing. The Board President's XI rattled up 174 for no loss in their second innings, somewhat redeeming themselves for their first-innings 177 all out. Piyush Chawla reduced the pain of an unimpressive first-innings bowling performance, cracking 82 and then picking up three wickets in the second innings.

But the real action began after the day's play was called off, as Harbhajan Singh turned up to have a bowl on the centre wicket. The offie, who was a part of the India team's three-hour intensive practice session in the morning at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, is clearly leaving no stone unturned in getting his preparation right ahead of the first Test.

In the morning session, Harbhajan was one of seven India players who went through their paces. With Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Murali Vijay finishing their successful Champions League final late on Sunday night, and Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, S Sreesanth and Pragyan Ojha in action in the three-day game, the India team's practice session acquired a well-spaced out, relaxed feel.

Sachin Tendulkar liked the idea of a long net, batting first against Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra, before moving to an adjoining net for throwdowns from coach, Gary Kirsten. Virender Sehwag, showing no ill-effects of the slight knock he received on the knee while batting in the nets on Sunday, clattered the ball around with usual aplomb. VVS Laxman made the most of a cool breeze blowing across the nets, barely breaking into a sweat as he got into the groove.

While Eric Simons, the bowling coach, kept a close watch, it was obvious that Harbhajan thought something was not right, as he frequently consulted Davinder Arora, the coach who was responsible for setting Harbhajan on the right track in his formative years.

Harbhajan's second bowling session provided a preview to Tuesday, when the Indians are expected to hold a centre-wicket practice session that could stretch over the best part of the day.