Chris Rogers pushes his case for Perth Test
Chris Rogers staked his claim for national selection but it was his namesake, John, who stole the show on the second day of the ACT Invitational XI match against the Indians. While Chris pushed his case with a timely 60, John, a 20-year-old Canberra local, thwarted the Indians with an assured 98. It meant his side ended on 8 for 292, trailing the Indians by 33 runs.
Not much was heard of John Rogers this season, considering his poor form in the second grade competition. He walked in amid a mini-collapse, with Ishant Sharma striking three blows in quick time, but shepherded the lower order with gusto, mixing attack and defence in good measure. Eager to get to his hundred, he spooned one to third man but by then had ensured his side inched towards parity.
A left-hander in a similar mould to Chris, John made the most of some loose offerings from the Indians. Sharma and Irfan Pathan were impressive in their bursts. Shamra got movement off the pitch and Pathan generated swing in the air, but neither of the two Singhs - Pankaj and VRV - struck the right length. Harbhajan Singh, who sustained a minor forehead injury at practice, was economical in his 13 overs and snapped up the important wicket of Chris Rogers after the lunch break.
Chris Rogers began tentatively, edging through the slips early on, but moved confidently to his half-century. His game was built on dabs and glides and he preferred the back foot against India's medium-pacers. He fell while trying to sweep a full one from Harbhajan and was trapped in front. It could be an important knock for him, given Matthew Hayden's hamstring injury ahead of the Perth Test.
"It was pretty frustrating," he added. "I shouted a few things out in the change rooms at the end. But that's the way it goes. You can get out at any moment. I was pretty disappointed but I thought I batted quite well and felt like I got some good time in the middle which is the key. I tried to hit it on the full and missed it. It hit me on the full so I was probably out."
He added 41 for the opening stand with Ed Cowan but Ishant came on to break through. His first ball of the day induced Cowan to play on before he removed Jonathan Dean with an incisive full one three balls later. In his fourth over he forced Mark Higgs to edge to the wicketkeeper and ended with an impressive 3 for 26 in 11 overs.
Ishant was India's most successful bowler. Pathan had a steady spell in the morning, swinging the ball past the outside edge, and could well be a frontrunner for the Perth Test, considering that he can add some runs in the lower order. Pankaj was economical without posing much of a threat while VRV Singh struggled with his run-up, turning in 11 no-balls. John Rogers made the most of their errant length and received good support from the lower order. James Crosthwaite and Randall Starr - one the wicketkeeper and the other a reserve wicketkeeper - added 27 apiece and aided him in stands of 67 and 74 respectively.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo