Chennai, Feb 19 (PTI): Australian batsmen’s woes against spinners were once again exposed as India ‘A’s unfancied duo of left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhruv and off-spinner Jalaj S Saxena excelled with an impressive display, forcing the visitors to follow on before the warm-up match ended in a draw here on Monday.
Gujarat’s Dhruv grabbed five for 51 while Madhya Pradesh all-rounder Saxena took four for 61 to dismiss Australia for 235 in their first innings in reply to India ‘A’s total of 451.
With 216-run deficit, India ‘A’ skipper Gautam Gambhir enforced follow-on and Australian did a shade better in their second essay by finishing on 195 for three at the Guru Nanak College grounds.
In all, it was a moral victory for the India ‘A’ side as they exposed the chinks in the Aussie armoury. Against Board President’s XI in their first warm-up game, the Aussies were bowled out for 241. In two successive matches, their batsmen failed to post a total in excess of 250.
If Perveez Rasool sowed the seeds of doubt in the Aussie minds about their inability to tackle spinners, Dhruv and Saxena’s performance will certainly compound their worries and at the same time encourage Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha to go all out against Michael Clarke’s men in the first Test.
The Aussies started the day at 131 for four and overnight batsmen Matthew Wade (44) and Moises Henriques (33) took the score to 176 with a 49-run fifth wicket stand. Both were trying to hit their way out of trouble -- especially Henriques, who hit two fours and three sixes in his 41-ball knock before he padded an arm ball from the left-arm spinner Dhruve which started the slide.
For 31-year-old Dhruv, who is a veteran of 75 first-class matches and is not a contender for the national side, this performance will certainly be the most memorable one of his career.
Peter Siddle was run-out after he failed to cover his ground at the non-striker’s end when Dhruv backed up beautifully to gather Manpreet Singh Gony’s throw and dislodge the bails.
While Wade was showing necessary composure during his 103-ball stay hitting four boundaries and two sixes, none of the other batsmen showed enough patience to stay at the crease and grind it out.
Mitchell Starc (11) and Nathan Lyon (0) then went for wild slogs off Saxena and were dismissed cheaply. While Starc was holed out in the deep by Ranganath Vinay Kumar, Lyon was clean bowled.
At 199 for eight, Xavier Doherty (7) provided a very brief resistance alongside Wade before the left-hander nicked one from Dhruv to glovesman ’keeper CM Gautam.
With both Saxena and Dhruv on four wickets apiece, it was then a race among the duo as to who would get that elusive five-wicket haul.
The tall left-armer became lucky when a desperate Wade tried to hit him out only to be caught by Gony in the deep as Australia lost their last six wickets in only 26.3 overs.
Being asked to follow-on in a three-day match is nothing sort of humiliation but Australians did get some batting practice with Shane Watson helping himself to a second half-century in the match smashing 60 off only 63 balls with nine fours and a six.
Along with opening partner Ed Cowan, who scored 53 off 81 balls with nine fours and a six, he added 104 runs for the opening stand.
The match was called off after 55 overs with Usman Khawaja batting on 30 in company of Wade who had scored 19.
The Australian side would not be very satisfied with their show in the two warm-up games as their batsmen have been found wanting against the unknown spinners.
Even their own spinners haven’t been able to provide much inroads with the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu negotiating Lyon and Doherty with ease.