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Rohit & Rahane hit fifties in drawn tie

- Dhawan, Pujara fail to build on their starts

Whangarei: India’s top order failed to convert good starts, but Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane struck morale-boosting half-centuries ahead of the Test series as the two-day practice match against New Zealand XI ended in a draw, here, on Monday.

India batted out the second day, getting 313 for seven before the declaration was announced, with Rahane (60) and Rohit (59) getting much-needed runs ahead of the first Test, starting from Thursday, in Auckland.

Resuming at 41 for naught, openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay couldn’t stay at the wicket for a long duration, as both fell early in the first hour of play. Vijay was the first to go, bowled in the second over of the day, without adding to his overnight score of 19.

Dhawan needed to spend more time in the middle after his repetitive failures in the ODI series. But going for a third run, a misunderstanding with non-striker Cheteshwar Pujara resulted in his run-out. Dhawan scored 26 runs, off 68 balls, with four fours.

New Zealand XI skipper Anton Devcich described Pujara as “the toughest Indian batsman to bowl to”, and it certainly looked so while the latter batted for an hour-and-half, scoring 33 runs before being trapped leg-before by Roald Badenhorst.

It brought together Rohit and Rahane at the crease, and the duo didn’t face much trouble as the pitch had eased out under bright sunshine. They added 99 runs on either side of lunch. Post break, Rohit brought up his half-century off 83 balls, with seven hits to the fence.

Shortly afterwards, with the score on 192, he left the field after scoring 59 runs, giving a chance to Ambati Rayudu (49) to get a feel of the conditions. At the other end, Rahane, too, completed his half-century off 91 balls, with three fours and a six.

With India’s total past 200, he, too, walked off, having scored 60 runs off 97 balls as Wriddhiman Saha (4) then came out to bat.

Wriddhiman couldn’t stay for long, as he was cleaned up by Jono Boult. Ravichandran Ashwin then came to the crease and put on 66 quick runs with Rayudu, playing some exotic shots on both sides of the wicket.

Ashwin scored 46 runs off 57 balls, with six fours and two sixes, and was the last batsman out four overs before the end of the match.

The match finished in the 93rd over with Rayudu staying unbeaten on 49. He faced 93 balls and hit five fours — with Bhuvneshwar Kumar being the other not-out batsman — rounding up a decent outing with the bat for the visitors. (PTI)