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By Chetan Narula
Whangarei: Feb 3, 2014
The Indian top-order failed to convert good starts but Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane struck morale-boosting fifties ahead of the Test series as the visiting team’s two-day practice match against New Zealand XI ended in a tame draw.
India batted out the second day, finishing at 313 for seven declared in 93 overs, with Rahane (60) and Rohit (59) getting some much-needed runs ahead of the two-Test series against New Zealand starting February 6 in Auckland.
This was in reply to the hosts’ score of 262 for nine declared on the first day. The Indian batting started from their overnight score of 41 for no loss, with openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay looking to bat for time.
But they couldn’t stay at the wicket for a long duration, as both fell early in the first hour of play.
Vijay was the first to go, bowled in the second over of the day, without adding to his overnight score of 19, which came off 56 deliveries and included one hit to the fence.
Dhawan needed to spend more time in the middle after his repetitive failures in the ODI series but going for a third run, a misunderstanding with non-striker Cheteshwar Pujara meant that he was run-out. He scored 26 runs, off 68 balls, with four fours.
New Zealand XI skipper Anton Devcich described Pujara as “the toughest Indian batsman to bowl to”, and it certainly looked so while he batted for an hour and half, scoring 33 runs (66 balls, four fours) before he was trapped LBW by Roald Badenhorst (1-38).
It brought together Rohit and Rahane at the crease, and the duo didn’t face much trouble as the pitch eased out under the bright sun.
They added 99 runs on either side of lunch. Post-break, Rohit brought up his half-century off 83 balls, with seven hits to the fence.
Shortly afterwards, with the score on 192, he retired-out after scoring 59 runs (101 balls, seven fours) to give a chance to Ambati Rayudu (49) to get a feel for the conditions.
At the other end, Rahane too completed his half-century off 91 balls, with three fours and one six.
With the Indian total past 200, he too walked off, having scored 60 runs off 97 balls (five fours, one six) and Wriddhiman Saha (4) came out to bat.
The Bengal wicketkeeper couldn’t stay for long, as he was bowled by Jono Boult (1-74).
Ravichandran Ashwin then came to the crease and put on 66 quick runs with Rayudu, playing some exotic shots on both sides of the wicket.
Ashwin scored 46 runs, off 57 balls, with six fours and two sixes, and was the last batsman out four overs before the end.
The match meandered and finished in the 93rd over with Rayudu staying unbeaten on 49. He faced 93 balls and hit five fours, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3), rounding up a decent outing with the bat for the visitors.
New Zealand XI 262 for 9 decl. (Robbie O’Donnell 80, Jono Hickey 45; Ishwar Pandey 3 for 42, R Ashwin 2 for 45) drew with India 313 for 7 (Rohit Sharma 59, Ajinkya Rahane 60; Roald Badenhorst 1 for 38).
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