Board President's XI 143 for 6 (Chawla 64*, Hilfenhaus 3-28) trail Australians 505 for 8 dec (Watson 115, Katich 104, North 124) by 362 runs
The Australians continued to dominate their tour game against the Board President's XI. After the openers, Simon Katich and Shane Watson, scored centuries on day one, Marcus North, who would have been under some pressure after he scored just 36 runs in four Test innings against Pakistan, scored 124 unbeaten runs in less than three hours to take the Australians past 500. Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter George then ran through the Board President's XI top order to reduce them to 53 for 5 at one stage.
The only matter of concern for the Australians would be Nathan Hauritz, their lead spinner, who was played with ease by the BP XI lower order. Piyush Chawla scored an unbeaten and entertaining 64 off 73, and made sure his side wasn't embarrassingly bowled out in one session of play on a slow pitch.
There was a scare for the Australians early on as Pragyan Ojha removed both Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke in his second over of the day. Ponting played back to one that pitched on an in-between length, and seemed to suggest the ball stayed a bit low too. Clarke jumped out of the crease, found he wasn't quite to the pitch of the ball, and was given bat-pad. Suddenly the quiet BP XI fielders became chirpy. The small crowd started cheering the spinners. Out came an extra set of shin pads, helmet, and abdomen guard. But North and Tim Paine thwarted it all in a 167-run partnership that ended when North was called back to give the rest a chance to bat.
North is a notoriously nervous starter, and he seemed to make a conscious effort not do anything silly in the first 30-40 balls he played. It showed in how he let Paine do the early scoring, and only opened up when Chawla presented him with a long hop. In the next few overs, he pulled and drove Umesh Yadav for fours, and lofted Ojha over midwicket for another.
Another period of acceleration was to come. There was a point when North was on 26 and Paine on 17. By the time Paine reached 19, North had moved to 49. He played almost all the shots except the straight drive. He wasn't made to. The bowlers allowed him to stay on the back foot and cut and pull. When he drove, he drove through extra cover. The sweep was used sparingly: in fact he swept only thrice in scoring his first 59 runs.
When he grew in confidence, he started sweeping and lofting more, and raced to his century. Paine provided the ideal solid base at the other end. He seemed to be enjoying tiring the bowlers down. After North ended his innings, though, the BP XI got quick consolation wickets, the last five falling for 11. Michael Hussey's comeback will make sure the tail is not that long in the Test matches.
The collapse at the top of BP XI innings was more spectacular. In his second over, Hilfenhaus surprised Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane with extra bounce. Gambhir went back looking at the fingers of his right hand, and Rahane looking at some spot on the pitch. Peter George, known to be in the Glenn McGrath mould, started accurately, and removed a left-hand batsman, Shikhar Dhawan, with the first ball he bowled to him. It was a McGrathesque dismissal: the ball pitched around off, and took the edge of the hanging bat. He got Saurabh Tiwary caught-behind too, but that was a loose shot away from the body. Between those two dismissals, Mitchell Johnson squared Cheteshwar Pujara up with what seemed to be late movement away.
At 55 for 5, though, spin was introduced. Chawla found it easier to negotiate and added 37 with Wriddhiman Saha. He used his feet a lot, and got to the pitch of the ball with ease, lofting both the spinners for a six each, including Steven Smith in his first over. That Smith's over was bowled three overs before stumps didn't stop Chawla from going after him. Between them, the Australian spinners bowled 11 overs for 66 runs, and couldn't manage a maiden. Hauritz got one inside edge from Chawla that went fine of the wicketkeeper, and that was that.
A No. 7 attacking their spinners with ease was the only worrying sign for the Australians over the last two days.