Cheteshwar Pujara and KL Rahul find form against Australia ‘A’

Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara and young Test batsman KL Rahul scored half-centuries as India ‘A’ reached 221/6 on the first day of the four-day ‘Test’ against Australia ‘A’ at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday.

KL Rahul, who pulled out of the one-off Test in Bangladesh due to fever, reminded the selectors of his fitness with a fine 96 against Australia ‘A’ and India ‘A’ captain Cheteshwar Pujara on his way to a fine half century against Australia ‘A’ in Chennai on Wednesday BCCI

Only a day after saying that there was nothing wrong with his technique, Pujara, batting at his customary No. 3 position, shared 107 for the second wicket with the attractive Rahul in 38 overs after opener Abhinav Mukund was clean bowled by Andrew Fekete for 9 in the innings’ second over.

Rahul, who missed the one-off Test against Bangladesh last month due to dengue, could not have timed his return to form and fitness with a patient knock, missing his century by just one scoring shot. By scoring his 96 from 185 balls with 14 fours and staying in the crease for nearly 67 overs in humid conditions, Rahul is sure to return to the Test squad for Sri Lanka when the selectors meet in New Delhi on Thursday. He fell by giving a simple catch to opposition skipper Usman Khawaja at mid-off off speedster Sean Abbott.

The touring Australians fought back to pick up wickets regularly on a day when only 77.1 overs out of the maximum 90 were bowled due to rain towards the end of the final session. Medium-pacer Andrew Fekete and left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe took two wickets each for the visitors.

Mumbai’s young Shreyas Iyer chipped in with 39 off 58 balls with seven fours and shared 55 with Rahul for the fourth wicket

Batting first on winning the toss, India A began cautiously through Rahul. Batting was not easy on a slow wicket and the Australia bowlers did well to comeback in the contest. Feteke (2/38) said the wicket was slow, helping him get rid of Pujara. “Due to slowness of the wicket, it is difficult to score runs,” the right-arm pacer said.

Karun Nair, who scored a triple century for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy final earlier in the year, was out for zero while wicket-keeper Naman Ojha fell for 10.

(With PTI inputs)

Scoreboard: India ‘A’: KL Rahul c Khawaja b Abbott 96, A Mukund b Fekete 9, C Pujara c Khawaja b Fekete 55, K Nair c Handscomb b O’Keefe 0, S Iyer b Sandhu 39, N Ojha c Sandhu b O’Keefe 10, V Shankar batting 4, A Mishra batting 0
Extras (NB4, B4) 8
Total (for 6 wkts, 77.1 overs) 221
Bowling: G Sandhu 16-5-53-1, A Fekete 17-6-38-2, S Abbott 14-4-23-1, S O’Keefe 19-4-66-2, M Stoinis 10-3-37-0, T Head 1.1-1-0-0