Chandigarh: At the end of the first day's play of the warm-up tie between Board President's XI and Australia, BP XI skipper Gautam Gambhir said, "The flat wicket didn't have much for the bowlers. In this scenario, I think they did a decent job."
However, the visitors made Gambhir eat his words, as chasing Australia's imposing 505, BPXI were tottering at 143 for 6 at stumps on Day Two at sector 16 Stadium on Sunday. With Australian fast bowlers making early wickets, BP-XI slumped to 53 for 5, before a quickfire half-century by leggie Piyush Chawla lifted them to 143.
Aussie quickies' nippy pace and ability to extract bounce from what looked a flat track while the home side bowled, caught BPXI batsmen unaware. Ben Hilfenhaus struck twice in the third over, removing Gautam Gambhir (8) and Ajinkya Rahane (0) while lanky seamer Peter George snared Shikhar Dhawan (17) and Saurabh Tiwary (15) to break the backbone of BPXI's top order.
Gambhir failed to negotiate a well-directed Hilfenhaus bouncer and was snapped sharply by Tim Paine behind stumps. Two balls later, Hilfenhaus forced an edge off Ajinkaya Rahane's bat to Paine. Rookie seamer Peter George struck on the first ball of his India tour removing Shikhar Dhawan who edged one behind stumps. Cheteshwar Pujara (9) succumbed to Mitchell Johnson's sheer pace while Saurabh Tiwary fell prey to George and was caught behind.
Paine had a busy day behind the stumps as Wriddhiman Saha became Hilfenhauss third victim, fishing outside the off stump. Just when it looked like the BPXI innings would fold up before the end of the day's play, Piyush Chawla saved the blushes by hitting a breezy 60 (73b, 9x4, 2x6). Chawla had Sreesanth (7) as company when the stumps were drawn
Earlier, resuming for their overnight total of 319 for 1, Australia suffered an early jolt with Ricky Ponting (42) and Michael Clarke (44) falling early to Pragyan Ojha in a space of four deliveries in the fourth over of the morning.
However, BPXI bowlers joy was shortlived as southpaw Marcus slammed a stroke-filled 124 (128b, 19x4, 2x6) and added 150 runs with Tim Paine for the fourth wicket before retiring out. While North treated the BPXI bowlers with utter disdain, hitting them all over the park, Paine played the perfect foil to gain valuable time in the middle ahead of the first Test.
After North's retirement, the visitors lost the last five wickets for a mere 38 runs. The only consolation for the homeside was Sreesanth's improved performance after a forgettable first day. The seamer hit the deck hard and bowled at good pace and made the batsman play, something he couldn't do on Saturday.
Australians 505 (Watson 115, Katich 104, North 124)
Board President's XI 143 for 6 (Chawla 64*, Hilfenhaus 3-28)
Status Board President's XI trail by 362 runs