There was little to look forward to on the third and final day between India and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Invitational XI. Chances of a result were slim given the nature of the pitch and having seen the Indian batsmen and bowlers put up a timid show on the first two days, Saturday’s action was unlikely to be spectacular.
With the local side declaring at their overnight 292, 33 behind India’s 325, the visitors sent in Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik to open, giving them another chance to make up for their failures in the first innings. Both came good this time, but how that would alter or affect equations is difficult to guess. Sehwag scored a rapid-fire century while his partner fell three short of the mark and given the quality of attack and in the context of the match, it’s early to say that Anil Kumble won’t have some serious brainstorming to do when he and the others sit to pick the XI for the third Test in Perth from Wednesday.
The firebrand opener, however, appeared more than hopeful of getting back into the Test team after almost a year following the 78-ball 113 (2x6, 18x4).
“I’ve got my rhythm back and am very confident of making it to the team. Doesn’t matter where they ask me to bat, I’ll just be very happy playing Test cricket again.”
Given the way he went into a shell in the first innings before falling for 24 and the fact that he survived an easy chance to square-leg in the second while on 16, it might be premature for his fans to start celebrating in anticipation of his return to Tests. Those keeping a closer eye on things would also remember that the pitch and bowlers are expected to be different in Perth, though Sehwag thought otherwise.
“The Perth wicket is good for both batsmen and bowlers. The ball comes on and it’s good for playing strokes. I’ve got some runs in a couple of one-day matches there and it’s good not just for me but for all batsmen.”
It was a good confidence-booster nonetheless and after an early reprieve, Sehwag tore into the attack. Unlike the first innings, where he was trying to play himself in, the batsman was bent on going for it at every chance and made most of the many that came his way.
Having lost his place at the top and subsequently his berth in the Test XI, Karthik looked determined to prove his point and after watching Sehwag blaze away, opened up and played some aggressive shots.
With due credit, it must not be forgotten that a bulk of the runs came against some below-par spin bowling which is unlikely to be the case in Perth.
Yuvraj fails again
There was chance for another one to redeem himself but Yuvraj Singh did his cause little good by falling cheaply again. True, the pitch was perhaps too slow for his liking, but the bowling was not and the left-hander failed to keep down a drive that was caught at cover. It would be a worry to find a suitable replacement. Riddled with problems off the field, Kumble has a new one to solve now — he perhaps knows whom to omit, but does he know whom to bring in?