Watson, Hilfenhaus take honours on last day
Shane Watson and Ajinkaya Rahane struck brilliant centuries and speedster Ben Hilfenhaus earned a five-wicket haul as the three-day warm-up game between Australia and the Board President's XI ended in a draw at Sector 16 cricket stadium in Chandigarh on Monday.
Chasing a virtually unachievable target of 516 runs in 40 odd overs, BP XI made 174 for no loss, a much better performance after their first innings batting collapse.
While opener Shikhar Dhawan (5) retired hurt after a rising delivery by Hilfenhaus hit him close to his ear, 22-year-old right-handed Rahane reached his century in just 103 balls. The opener's unbeaten knock of 113 was studded with 18 boundaries and a six.
Saurashtra batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who has been included in the Test squad, batted with patience in the second innings and consumed 102 balls for his 52 that included nine hits to the fence.
Image: Shane Watson
Ponting opened the innings
Batting first, Australia made 505 in their first innings, mainly due to the brilliant tons struck by openers Shane Watson (115) and Simon Katich (104) followed by a dazzling knock by Marcus North (124).
Resuming at 143 for six, the President's men could only add 34 runs before being bowled out for 177, giving the Aussies a huge 328-run first innings lead.
However, Australia did not enforce the follow-on and decided to bat again in their second innings.
Australia suffered an early jolt in their second innings, when Ricky Ponting, opening the innings to spend some time in the middle, mistimed a pull shot to Umesh Yadav at square-leg off the bowling of Jaidev Unadkat.
Ponting, who made 42 in the first innings, would have liked more runs under his belt considering three of his teammates striking tons in the first innings.
Image: Ricky Ponting (left) walks off the field after being dismissed by Jaidev Unadkat
Chawla shines with all-round performance
Piyush Chawla bowled well and earned three scalps in second innings castling Tim Paine (0), Steve Smith (19) and having Mitchell Johnson (5) lob a catch to Ajinkaya Rahane as they declared their second innings at 187-6.
Opener Watson's (104) unbeaten ton studded with 18 boundaries was the only highlight of Australia's second innings as the visitors set BP XI a virtually unachievable target of 516 runs in less than 40 overs.
Earlier in the morning, BP XI skipper Gautam Gambhir, who suffered a blow on his wrist as he got out to a rising delivery from Hilfenhaus on Sunday, preferred to rest and did not come out to bat on Monday.
Given the fact that BP XI crumbled like a pack of cards, especially its top order batsmen, spinner Piyush Chawla played an outstanding knock of 82 that was studded with ten boundaries and three sixes.
Image: Australia's Ben Hilfenhaus (left) celebrates with teammate Nathan Hauritz after dismissing Ajinkya Rahane
Ojha impressive before first Test
Chawla, along with Sreesanth, weaved a 68-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
The insipid batting display of the President's men could be gauged from the fact that half of their batsmen failed to reach double digits including skipper Gautam Gambhir (8).
Sreesanth (12) was the first to depart on Monday, when Ben Hilfenhaus forced an edge off his bat to Shane Watson at first slip.
Pragyan Ojha (0) became Hilfenhaus' fifth victim in his very next over. Ojha was castled after being beaten by sheer pace. With 8 wickets down at 171, Chawla was losing partners and hope and he too departed (9-171), lobbing a catch to substitute Phil Hughes giving off spinner Nathan Hauritz his first scalp.
Umesh Yadav (6) too did not last long as he holed out to Simon Katich giving Mitchell Johnson his second scalp.
The main consolation was good performance from Pragyan Ojha, who has been included in the Test squad. The left-arm spinner took three scalps in the first innings and one wicket in the second bowling a tight length.
Sreesanth, who is trying to break into the Test side after an injury, had bowled badly on the first day, showed some signs of improvement on Sunday taking two scalps.
Image: Australia's Steven Smith (left) unsuccessfully appeals for wicket of Pragyan Ojha