Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes responded to their dumping from the Australia Test squad with a century opening stand as the Chairman’s XI’s tour match against India petered out into a draw yesterday.
Khawaja (56 not out) and Hughes (42 not out) put on 100 for the first wicket chasing 145 when both captains agreed to call the match off ahead of India’s opening Test against Australia starting in Melbourne on Monday.
Khawaja and Hughes were left out of a 13-man Australian squad announced yesterday for the Melbourne Cricket Ground Test and took out their frustrations on India’s bowlers.
There were two generous declarations on the third and final day with a result made meaningless as India sought to wrap up their preparations for the Boxing Day Test.
Skipper David Warner declared the Chairman’s XI first innings at the overnight total of 215 for seven, 54 runs adrift of India’s first innings 269.
Virender Sehwag again fell cheaply following his 12 in the first innings with just eight in his second turn for the tourists.
Sehwag only lasted eight balls before he edged paceman Peter George to first slip. It was the second time George had snared Sehwag’s prized wicket in the match.
Ajinkya Rahane was the only other wicket to fall, with the batsman caught behind off Josh Lalor for a duck as India declared at 90 for two at lunch.
Test opener Gautam Gambhir was left unbeaten on 42 off 98 balls with Rohit Sharma not out 38.
Only 30 overs were bowled in the Chairman’s XI second innings with Test paceman Ishant Sharma granted permission to bowl on the final day despite not being included in India’s original 13-man squad.
Sharma, troubled by an ankle injury in the tourists’ opening two-day game last week, finished with 0-18 from four overs.
Selectors named a 13-man squad with Shaun Marsh, Ed Cowan and Ben Hilfenhaus included, but there was no place for injured allrounder Shane Watson and fast bowler Ryan Harris.
Chief selector John Inverarity said the size of the squad was due to the continuing uncertainty about the fitness of Marsh, has been troubled by a back complaint.
“Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja have been omitted from the Australian team that played against New Zealand in Hobart and Marsh, Ed Cowan and Ben Hilfenhaus have been added to the squad,” Inverarity said. “Shane Watson was not considered for selection as he has not recovered sufficiently from his [hamstring/calf] injury, while Ryan Harris has not yet achieved the volume of bowling required to be available for consideration for Test selection.”
Cowan was included on the strength of his 109 against India in the Chairman’s XI in Canberra on Tuesday along with two centuries in this season’s domestic Sheffield Shield and one for Australia A against the touring Black Caps.
“Ed Cowan has been in excellent form in recent weeks,” Inverarity said. “His inclusion is in recognition of his consistently good performances and we anticipate that he can provide steadiness at the top of the order.”
“Ben Hilfenhaus has regained form this season and he provides a strong and reliable bowling option,” he added.
Inverarity said Hughes and Khawaja both needed to produce “compelling performances” to be considered for future Test selection.
“We see both Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja as developing players with bright futures and remaining as players of significance,” he said. “They are determined young men and I know that they will work hard to produce compelling performances and push strongly for further consideration.”
The Australia squad assembles in Melbourne from today ahead of the Boxing Day Test start.
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