Chennai, Feb. 17 -- Even as Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma were piling on the runs against a hapless Australia bowling attack, there was a small conference taking place near the boundary ropes.
Skipper Michael Clarke along with coach, Mickey Arthur, and the other support staff had much to ponder on. The three-day warm-up game against India 'A' is the last opportunity for the Australians before the first Test and on the first day of the match at the Guru Nanak College ground, there wasn't much going their way.
Having put three spinners on trial ahead of the first Test, only left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty tasted success to some extent as Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar struggled against a quality batting line-up.
That they ran into a wounded Gautam Gambhir made it worse. The left-hander milked the spinners at will to score 122 - his first hundred in first-class cricket in three years. The India 'A' skipper found an able ally in Rohit Sharma, who made a classy 77 (144b, 8x4, 3x6) as the duo combined to punish the visitors.
Later, Manoj Tiwary and CM Gautam frustrated the Aussies, remaining unbeaten as India 'A' finished Day One at 338 for 4.
Despite openers Gambhir and Jiwanjot Singh struggling against the quicks, stand-in skipper Shane Watson turned to the spinners in the 10th over to give them a chance to stake their claim for the first Test.
While Doherty found his rhythm as he bowled more, Lyon and Agar were easy fodder for the India batsmen. The conditions weren't far from ideal for the trio, but they failed to hit a proper line and length even as Gambhir and Sharma made merry, adding 128 for the third wicket.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.