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Sourav, Dravid do damage control

Melbourne: Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid repaired a pathetic start by the Indians on a rain-affected first day of their warm-up match against Victoria at the Junction Oval Thursday.

Sourav (51 batting) scored his half-century at the stroke of tea, gliding one down to point region, while Dravid, attuned himself to the role of an opener with an unbeaten 33 as India closed the day at 110 for three from 38 overs.

The duo’s damage-control partnership came when the visitors were reeling at 38 for three inside the first hour after the early session was washed out.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the stand-in captain in the absence of Anil Kumble who chose to skip the game, won the toss and promptly decided to give his batsmen the much-needed practice in the Australian conditions.

However, the Indians were rocked by little known left-arm paceman Allan Wise who claimed all three wickets to fall in the second session of the day’s play.

It still looked a long day for the Indians, who struggled to come to terms with the conditions.

Sourav, all set for his 100th Test in Melbourne next week, was giving Dravid company with an equally sedate innings before shifting gears towards the end of the session.

The left-hander stroked the ball sweetly on the offside and came down the track to spinners even as clouds again gathered on the horizon. Sourav completed his half-century off the last ball before tea and his 86-ball innings included eight hits to the fence.

The duo thus settled a few early nerves in the dressing room after the loss of three quick wickets.

Wasim Jaffer (0) set the tone for the miserable afternoon when his attempted pull went high up for the mid-off fielder to take an easy catch.

V.V.S Laxman (1) lazily flicked a delivery for wicketkeeper Matthew Hade to bring off a smart catch on the legside. Sachin Tendulkar (19) looked completely at ease as he stroked a few shots down the ground before he under-edged a cut on to his stumps.

The conditions were damp and the ball never quite came on to the bat which accentuated the batsmen’s problems.

India desperately need to make the most of this game before they go into the Test series, starting with the Boxing Day Test at the MCG on December 26. (Agencies)

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