Murali Vijay provided some relief to India’s opening conundrum with a blazing century on the final day of the warm-up game against Cricket Australia XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground as the game ended in a draw. The game in Sydney, India’s lone warm-up encounter before the first Test in Adelaide on December 6 yielded plenty of positives for Virat Kohli’s side, with the skipper, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari and Prithvi Shaw all slamming fifties to show their form. In the second innings, India was boosted by the form of KL Rahul with the right-hander making up for his failure in the first innings with an aggressive 61.
However, the match provided some sadness for 19-year-old Shaw as the youngster suffered an ankle injury which has forced him to miss the first Test. With Shaw out of the equation, there were plenty of questions raised on India’s opening conundrum for the first Test but the performances of Vijay and Rahul might have eased the nerves for Kohli’s side.
Cricket Australia XI took a massive 186-run lead thanks to wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen’s century. He was well supported by Aaron Hardie’s 86 and valuable contributions from Daniel Fallins (43), Luke Robins (38*) and Jackson Coleman (36) all chipped in to help Cricket Australia XI reach 544 all out.
Rahul and Vijay started off in calm fashion before opening up after negotiating the first hour. Rahul was the first to reach his landmark by slamming two consecutive boundaries of Fallins but the 109-run stand was broken when Rahul perished to D’Arcy Short’s offspin.
Vijay was the next to get to his landmark with a boundary off Aaron Summers. The Tamil Nadu opener continued to play aggressively and he raised his aggression to the next level when Jake Carder came into the attack. Vijay blasted three boundaries and two sixes as he reached his century in grand style, with the bowler leaking 26 runs.
Carder was subject to more punishment as Vijay launched him for two more sixes but he departed for 129 and the match ended in a draw. The performances of Vijay and Rahul have given India breathing space for the Adelaide Test in the opening slot following Shaw’s injury. However, the onus will be on both to put together a solid partnership following their disappointing series in England.