Batting for the first time in the match, Murali Vijay slammed an entertaining century on the final day of India’s solitary warm-up game against Cricket Australia XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.
The match ended in a draw when Vijay was dismissed for 129 off 131 balls, a knock that saw him hit five sixes.
Vijay, returning to the Test squad after being dropped mid-way through the England tour, celebrated his comeback with an unbeaten century off 118 balls. He looked solid throughout the innings on the fourth day, and had reached his half-century off 91 balls.
Thereafter he sped through the second fifty-runs, off only 27 balls, getting to three figures off 118 deliveries. He hit 26 runs off Jake Carder (0-41) in one over to race to his hundred. Vijay went from 74 too 100 in one over as he took apart part-time spinner Carder scoring 4, 4, 6, 2, 6, 4.
Earlier, Rahul scored 62 (98 balls) as the duo put on 109 runs for the opening wicket as India finished at 211-2 (43.4 overs) in their second innings at stumps on day four of the tour game against Cricket Australia XI here at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Rahul batted with greater confidence than in recent times, hitting eight fours and a six, as he warmed up for the first Test. At times, he did look shaky with circumspect timing, as seen in his dismissal off a full toss caught at mid-wicket.
But importantly for India, the expected opening pair for the first Test at Adelaide looked in good touch in the brief session of play, adding 109 runs for the first wicket.
Hanuma Vihari, promoted to No 3 perhaps as an indication that he was the front-runner for the No 6 slot, was unbeaten on 15 as India finished with 211/2.
Earlier, Cricket Australia’s last two partnerships lasted for 27.5 overs as the Indian bowlers were made to toil. It took an yorker from Jasprit Bumrah off his seventh delivery, who came on to bowl for the first time in the second session on the final day, to bring an end to the home side’s innings. True to D’Arcy Short’s words on Friday, the CA XI did not declare and played their full quota, making 544 in 151.5 overs, before India got a chance to bat again for 44 overs.
Mohammed Shami (3-97) did not bowl on this final day, while R Ashwin (2-122 in 40 overs) and Ishant Sharma (1-73 in 22 overs) sent down a majority of overs in the morning session.
India though tested their fifth bowling options again as Vihari (0-34), Virat Kohli (1-27) and Murali Vijay (0-17) sent down 13 overs between them.
Nielsen (100) scored a hundred off 170 balls, including nine fours, and was out caught at mid-off as he hit a skier off Kohli.
The hosts’ lower order all got good runs with Daniel Fallins (43), Luke Robins (38 not out) and Jackson Coleman (36) keeping the visitors chasing leather in the sun. The latter duo added 57 runs for the final wicket.
So much so that India brought on Jasprit Bumrah (1-0) and Kuldeep Yadav (0-3), not initially included in the 14-man list at the start of the game, to bowl after lunch.
Kohli dismissed centurion Harry Nielsen and celebrated it with gusto.
The first Test begins in Adelaide on Thursday.