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Indian bats hit the groove 

SYDNEY, November 29

India had a useful outing on the second day of their only warm-up match before the Test series against Australia with five of their batsmen hitting half-centuries against a Cricket Australia XI here today. The opening day of the four-day non-first class match against an under-strength representative side was washed out by torrential rain but the storms abated on Thursday.

The Virat Kohli-led tourists suffered a mini collapse towards the end, losing their last five wickets for 11 runs to be dismissed for 358, but will be pleased to have got so much time in the middle for their top and middle orders.

India’s 19-year-old opening batsman Prithvi Shaw caught the eye with a sparkling 66, hitting 11 boundaries in his 69-ball knock. Kohli, who scored an unbeaten 61 in India’s win in Sydney on Sunday to tie the three-match T20 series, also signalled his rich vein of form with a 64 off 87 balls.

The world’s top-ranked Test batsman hit seven fours and a six in his knock before offering a simple return catch to seamer Aaron Hardie, 19, who finished with 4/50. No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara spent some quality time at the crease during his knock of 54, while vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane pitched in with 56 before retiring out to let others bat. Middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari made 53. Rohit Sharma, who made a comeback to the Test squad after a poor show in South Africa earlier this year, did not get to the half-century mark but scored a stroke-filled 40, studded with five fours and a six. Opener Lokesh Rahul has not been in the best of form and missed out again. He scored three and was the first wicket to fall for India. The Test series begins in Adelaide on Dec 6.  Melbourne: Ricky Ponting boldly stated that Usman Khawaja will outscore Kohli and backed the hosts to prevail over an optimistic Indian team eyeing its first Test series win Down Under. The former Test skipper said the Queenslander will not only be the leading run-scorer against India, but also the Player of the Series. 

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