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Rain hits India tour match in Australia

Published: Thursday, December 20, 2007, 13:39 [IST]
 
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MELBOURNE :
Rain and a second-string Victorian bowling attack conspired to severely curtail the touring Indian cricket team's preparations for the Boxing Day Test against Australia here.

The Indians only had one session at the crease to reach 110 for three before rain forced play to be abandoned late on the first day of the three-day lead-up game at Junction Oval.

The tourists recovered from 38 for three after morning rain prevented any play in the first scheduled session.

Another heavy downpour during the tea break then finished off the day early.

Left-arm medium pacer Allan Wise, who has struggled to break into the Victorian four-day side this season, finished the day with 3-22.

Wise had opener Wasim Jaffer out for a duck in the second over, V.V.S. Laxman for one in the fourth over and then bowled Sachin Tendulkar after the champion batsman made a brisk 19.

Former captains Sourav Ganguly (51 not out) and Rahul Dravid (33 not out) steadied the innings with an unbeaten stand of 72 to prevent a total wipeout for the under-prepared tourists.

It is India's only hit-out before they play Australia in the first of four Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, starting on Boxing Day.

Captain Anil Kumble is sitting out the match to allow Mahendra Singh Dhoni to lead the side.

Dhoni is selected to play despite missing the third Test against Pakistan with an ankle injury, while Tendulkar took part despite missing out in Bangalore with a knee problem.

Fast bowler Zaheer Khan has been given extra time to rest after missing the third Test because of ankle problem.

Jaffer was the only recognised opener selected in this match -- Dinesh Karthik is 12th man and Virender Sehwag was overlooked -- but let himself down when he played a skewed edge off Wise to mid-off.

Laxman followed caught behind down the legside and then Tendulkar fell, after an entertaining knock which featured a majestic six over mid-wicket off Wise, when he played on trying to drive off the back foot.

To rub salt into India's wounds, television replays showed Wise had overstepped but umpire and former Test fast bowler Paul Reiffel failed to signal a no-ball.

But Ganguly and Dravid applied themselves well after the early struggles.

Dravid might have won the opening spot for Boxing Day after a composed stay, and Ganguly improved the longer he batted.

Ganguly prodded and edged early, but then played some nice attacking shots, including successive boundaries off legspinner Bryce McGain.

He brought up his half-century in the final over before tea.

Play is scheduled to start 30 minutes early on Friday's second day, as only 38 overs were bowled on Thursday.

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