Thursday, June 13, 2024

Kohli, Ashwin shine, Zak disappoints


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CANBERRA: Virat Kohli struck a century and spinner R Ashwin captured four wickets but it was pace spearhead Zaheer Khan’s form and fitness which turned out to be the main concern for the Indians on the second day of their warm-up game against CA Chairman’s XI on Tuesday.

Kohli slammed 132 in a team total of 269 as his other batting colleagues, including captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, failed to impress.

Rohit Sharma was the only substantial contributor with 47 as the Indian innings folded around half an hour before lunch at the Manuka Oval.

Off-spinner Ashwin continued his good form from where he had left at home against the West Indies as he picked up four wickets for 52 runs from his 14 overs to put brakes on the CA Chairman’s XI side which was struggling at 214/7.

The home side rode on Test hopeful Ed Cowan’s 109 made from 154 balls, inclusive of 16 fours, and were still trailing by 55 runs with three wickets in hand.

Tim Ludeman was batting on 15 when stumps were drawn early due to bad light.

For India though, the main cause of concern would be the form and fitness of senior pacer Zaheer Khan, who failed to impress in his return to the Indian squad after long injury lay-off.

The 33-year-old paceman bowled 10 overs in two spells and conceded 41 runs without ever looking like picking up a wicket. Worryingly, he did not stay put in the field and left for dressing room as soon as he was through with his spell on both occasions.

In all, Zaheer must not have spent more than an hour in the field. With the first Test starting next week, the team thinktank would surely now be worried if the proven left-arm seamer would be up for the pressure of standing up to the rigours of a five-day game.

Zaheer bowled six overs on the trot after lunch, conceding 29 runs, and bowled four more overs after tea. That was all when he was seen around in the park. With the first Test now firmly in sight, India would be worried on the count of its frontline pacers. Ishant Sharma has not bowled either in the nets or in the middle but for five-odd overs and Zaheer has not been convincing either on form or fitness.

The home side would be similarly upset as all their Test regulars — David Warner (2), Usman Khawaja (25) and Phil Hughes (20) — failed to get going. It was left to Cowan to thump an attractive 109 in friendly conditions. (PTI)


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