Before the final day of the Indians' warm-up match against the CA Chairman's XI, Zaheer Khan had spoken about how he wanted to be the one who can make a difference. On Wednesday, even when he marked his run up at the Cathedral End, one could see the intent in his eyes.
The first ball he bowled found the inside edge of Usman Khawaja’s bat. Three balls later Zaheer, who had been laid low by injuries on both his previous visits Down Under, had the southpaw play and miss a delivery. If the first over was good, the second, a maiden, was better.
Off the third ball, Zaheer rapped Khawaja on the pads. However, the loud appeal was turned down.
At the other end, the Telopea Park End, Ishant, as reported by HT, cleared all injury doubts as he charged in to bowl and got a few to rise sharply off good length. Drafted into the team on the final day, as this wasn’t a first-class match, Ishant hit his stride and looked sharp in his brief spell.
With a host of former Aussie greats, including Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, putting serious question marks over their ability to last the whole tour, India’s new-ball pair did enough to indicate that come Boxing Day in Melbourne they will be ready to let the ball do the talking.
The final day’s play in the three-day tie turned inconsequential on Wednesday after an agreement between the two captains, MS Dhoni and David Warner, to split the proceedings into two 30-over sessions.
CA Chairman's XI declared on their overnight score of 215/7. Opener Virender Sehwag again failed to make an impact, and was dismissed by lanky pacer Peter George for the second time in the match.
Number three Ajinkya Rahane's had a third successive failure as he nicked one to wicket-keeper Tim Ludeman, for a painful 16-ball duck.
Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma then steadied the ship, taking the visitors to 90/2 in their 30 overs, setting the hosts a target of 145 in 30 overs.
Khawaja and Phillip Hughes, who had both found out on Tuesday night that they would be dropped for the first Test, went out there with a point to prove — both to their detractors and the selectors, conscious that in an Australia team somewhat unsettled, every run scored could count before the Test series is done.
After a nervous start they settled in and stitched together an unbeaten 100-run opening stand, with Khawaja completing his 50.