India could not force a win of a tournament match in Sydney on Sunday, although they did not chase that. With the visitors as well as Australia discarding the idea of playing their virtual Test eleven in the warm-up tie, it was all about maximizing the takeaways.
Although India’s struggle for wickets after the pink ball softened during the day is something they may want to learn, they have nevertheless scored plenty of boxes in their quest to be best prepared for the opening Test starting in Adelaide on Thursday.
Australia finally offered some blow resistance in the form of Ben McDermott (107 *), Alex Carey (58) and Jack Wildermuth (111 *) to reach 307/4 in their second innings. After going through the beating in a single session under lights on Day 1, the Indian bowlers would not be too unlucky to be subjected to the kind of workshop they need to be prepared for the real test.
Before settling for a draw, Mohammed Shami delivered two powerful punches to Australia’s test preparations. Joe Burns and Marcus Harris, chosen by Australian selectors to open at Adelaide, fell in Shami’s opening blast.
Left-handed Harris ended up clipping an arriving Shami delivery to the waiting fielder at leg, to be dismissed for five. Nothing sweeter than an impromptu launch plan if you are Shami and Captain Ajinkya Rahane. But not how Harris would like to celebrate his Test recall, which last appeared in the 2019 Ashes.
His partner Joe Burns missed straight ahead, full in a shami swing, paying the penalty after overcompensating by switching to an off-stump guard. He has 62 runs to show in his last nine first-class innings and experts in Australia have been busy choosing a replacement – Shane Warne has appointed Matthew Wade to open with Harris while some have gone for Marnus Labuschagne. If Burns keeps his place with David Warner injured, he will remain fighting some mental battles.
Eliminating Harris, Burns and Nic Maddinson, India reduced Australia A to 25/3 in the 12th over. After that they managed only one more gate. Perhaps there was a lesson that wicket-taking after the pink kookaburra will consume a bit of endurance, diversity and strategy.
One of whom was hired by Jasprit Bumrah after the lights came on. He circled the gate to Wildermuth, serving him with a bombardment of porters. The batsmen somehow survived thanks to some release balls at the other end. It was an enemy spell of India’s speed with McDermott pepper with short balls as well, this time from over-the-wicket. There was one that made young McDermott, hitting 83, jump. India has introduced another regime on how they can attack if their main seamstresses start using the pink ball under lights.
Skipper Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara continued their adapted preparations for Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon in the adjacent networks at SCG.
Rahane, however, will be a little worried about his dismissals behind the wicke chasing wide deliveries. Pant got a storm a hundred on Saturday evening, mostly attacking a spine. If elected, doing it against Lyon would be a very different proposition. Mayank Agarwal got a hit filled 61 but then he didn’t face Pat Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood here, which underscores the limits of tour play.
India has yet to solve the initial puzzle (Prithvi Shaw-Shubman Gill). But they went through the two warm-up matches largely unscathed, causing some blows to the opposing dressing room.