Cricket

Rahane gets century boost ahead of key test role in Australia

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Cricket – New Zealand v India – Second Test – Hagley Oval, Christchurch, New Zealand – March 1, 2020 India’s Ajinkya Rahane in action REUTERS/Martin Hunter/Files

SYDNEY (Reuters) – India’s Ajinkya Rahane crafted an unbeaten century in a warm-up match on Sunday to give himself a timely boost ahead of his major responsibility in the four-test series against Australia beginning later this month.

With regular skipper Virat Kohli set to return home after the opening test in Adelaide to attend the birth of his first child, Rahane will be in charge in the final three matches in Australia.

The right-handed batsman made 108 not out to help the tourists overcome a top order wobble and reach 237-8 on day one of the three-day match against Australia A at Drummoyne Oval.

Rahane hit 16 boundaries and a six, an upper cut against James Pattinson to reach the half-century mark.

Number three Cheteshwar Pujara, who was awarded man-of-the-series when India won their maiden test series in Australia two seasons ago, also spent quality time in the middle and scored 54.

While Rahane played in the recent Indian Premier League (IPL) in the United Arab Emirates, this was Pujara’s first competitive outing since a domestic Ranji Trophy match in early March.

Pujara lasted 140 balls before falling to Pattinson, who claimed 3-58 to signal his own preparedness for the test series.

It was a mixed outing for the tourists as three of their top six batsmen, including openers Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, fell for ducks.

Wriddhiman Saha was the third, although the team will be happy that the stumper has returned to action after injuring his hamstrings in the IPL.

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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