| Sourav Ganguly in action in Brisbane on Monday
Brisbane: Sadagopan Ramesh made a strong case for Test selection even as the visiting side came off second-best for the third successive day against a second-grade opposition here on Monday.
The Indians, set a target of 305 in 65 overs by Queensland Academy of Sport, never went for it but still lost a clutter of wickets before Ramesh steadied the ship and took the tourists to a draw with an unbeaten knock of 37.
The hosts, resuming the final day at 79 for two, declared at the lunch score of 208 for six which included the second century of the match for Lee Carsledine. India, who trailed by 96 runs on the first innings, were thus set a 300-plus target on a glorious sunny afternoon and finished on 121 for four from 52 overs.
Three contenders for the opening berth — Virender Sehwag (4), Akash Chopra (11) and Deep Dasgupta (8) — provided little consolation to the tourists. Ramesh is the lone opener to offer some hope after being the most consistent of the quartet with scores of 87, 36, 21 and 37 not out. On Monday, he made sure India didn’t face any embarrassment at the hands of the Academy boys.
India lost Sehwag in the third over of their second innings, the out-of-form Delhi batsman falling leg-before after managing four from 13 deliveries. Sehwag now has scores of 23, 20, 6 and 4 on the tour.
With this run of scores, and with Ramesh looking increasingly comfortable with each outing, Sehwag’s chances of being included in the first XI are very difficult.
The other Delhi opener in the Indian squad did his cause no good either. Chopra’s propensity to fish outside the off stump was once again highlighted, the Delhi opener edging the hard-working Steve Magoffin to slips for 11 as the Indians slumped to 32 for two.
Deep left at the same total. He looked solid in his 47-minute stay before a straight delivery breached his defence and bent back the off stump.
Ramesh and Sourav Ganguly then built up a solid stand of 56 before the captain was ruled caught at slip off off-spinner Chris Simpson. The decision did not go down at all well with Sourav who went off shaking his head in disapproval.
Even then, the time he spent in the middle should make Sourav more confident ahead of the first Test. Sourav batted for 82 minutes and faced 62 balls, hitting six fours to register his highest score on the tour so far. The regular captain earlier had an extended session at the nets while the game was on. Rahul Dravid stood in for Sourav, and even when the latter was back on the field in the second hour, the vice-captain continued to lead the side.
In the first session, Carsledine again dominated the tourists’ attack to score a blazing unbeaten 109 off 155 balls, to go with his 112 in the first innings. He batted for 199 minutes and hit 18 fours.
Carsledine, overnight 31 not out, took only half an hour to reach his half-century which came off 93 balls and included 10 sizzling boundaries.
Left-arm paceman Irfan Pathan had a few words for Craig Philipson after having him caught at the square-leg boundary. The same batsman had earlier lofted Pathan over mid-off for a staggering six. Philipson too shot back a few words at Pathan. Kumble had his second scalp of the morning when Steve Farrell was stumped for two. The batsman had got a reprieve from the wicketkeeper just a couple of deliveries earlier.
Ryan le Loux faced just four balls for his unbeaten 12, which included a straight-driven four off Laxmipathy Balaji and a mighty six over the press box off Sehwag. (PTI)