Australia struggle in India tour match

Published: Friday, October 3, 2008, 17:39 [IST]
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Ricky Ponting's Australia faltered with both bat and ball here on Friday as an Indian second string gave the tourists a taste of the perils that lie ahead.

The Australians, who were thrashed for 455 runs by the Indian Board President's XI, were reduced to 128-4 in reply before they ended the second day's play in the four-day tour match on 191-4.

It is the final warm-up for the tourists before the four-Test series opens in Bangalore next Thursday.

Adding to Aussie woes was the news that number one spinner, the 36-year-old Bryce McGain, will return home due to a shoulder injury sustained last month.

A decision on McGain's replacement will be made after Australian chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch arrives here early Saturday.

The Australians struggled to contain the runs on a slow, barren pitch so typical in India as the home team's batsmen stroked freely in good batting conditions.

But when their turn came to bat, the Australian top order groped against the turning ball with young leg-spinner Piyush Chawla claiming 2-46.

Opener Matthew Hayden was caught behind off Irfan Pathan for 20, while his likely partner in the first Test, Simon Katich, was dismissed by left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha for 15.

Skipper Ponting, desperate to end his dismal run on Indian soil where he averages just 12 in eight Tests, made 41 before Chawla uprooted his middle stump with a googly.

Chawla also trapped Michael Clarke leg-before for 18, but Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin rescued the tourists by adding 63 for the fifth wicket.

At stumps, Hussey was unbeaten on 54 and Haddin was on 34.

The home team's first innings revolved around centuries from the promising Rohit Sharma and national under-19 captain Virat Kohli, who both scored 105.

Test discard Irfan Pathan struck a fluent 56 while adding 75 for the seventh wicket with Parthiv Patel (62) and 44 for the eighth with Chawla (23).

The hosts, who resumed on their overnight total of 371-6, added another 84 runs on the second morning.

Australia's hopes of finding a suitable spinner in place of McGain were hit as fellow debutant Jason Krejza failed to make an impression.

The 25-year-old Tasmanian off-spinner returned wicketless from 20 overs in which he conceded 123 runs.

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