Australia A openers set up bonus-point win against India A
At a point where Australia are struggling hard with their batting options, Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja have put themselves at the top of options to turn to by scoring a couple of effortless centuries against India A in Chennai to register a 119-run win in the 2nd ODI of the tri-series.
The India A medium-pacers and spinners were punished thoroughly by the two batsmen. Burns scored 154 with the help of 14 sixes. On the other hand, Khawaja batted seamlessly as if he had never sustained a knee injury.
The 28-year old had scored 85, 166 and 120 consecutively in October 2014 before taking the crutches for nine months. On his return to one-day cricket against South Africa A, he scored 73 and then against India A he hit a blistering knock of 100 in 104 balls. The Australia A opening pair dominated the India A bowlers for 35.5 overs to put up an incredible partnership of 239 of 215 balls to firm their position in the match.
The batsmen have shown great promise at a time when Michael Clarke looks out of form and a few vacancies are likely to develop in the Test side after the conclusion of the Ashes.
India A's poor bowling
The Indian spinners dug their own grave by constantly bowling flatter and quicker every time the batsmen targeted them. Axar Patel was economical with 1 for 55 in 10 overs. Parvez Rasool displayed a poor performance with 57 runs in seven overs. Karn Sharma's performance was dreadful as he gave 58 runs in five overs with an economy of 11.60.
Part-time off-spinner Karun Nair had figures of 1 for 40 in eight overs. He was among the few who exerted some control over the ball. Sanju Samson dropped a couple of catches and Kedar Jadhav too caught Burns on the square-leg boundary but crossed the ropes in the attempt.
The two batsmen played brilliantly against the spin. Burns brought up his first century as an opener in List A cricket and Khawaja scored his eighth List A hundred before being caught at long-off. The duo batted well against spin, which indicates that they might be able to tackle the responsibilities of No.4 and Np.5 batsmen in the national squad.
Since the run-rate began to dip after the dismissal of the openers, it suggested that it was not an easy pitch to bat on. However, Australia A's bowlers had a mammoth total of 334 to defend by the end of the 50th over.
India A's poor batting
India A required for a good start from the top order batsmen and support from the middle order. They got neither. Skipper Unmukt Chand and Kedar Jadhav saved complete embarrassment by scoring a fifty each. This, however, did not suffice for the Indian side to reach the target and were crushed under pressure.
Australian bowler Adam Zampa focussed on spinning the ball when the batsmen charged at him and ended with figures of 4 for 49 in 10 overs. Gurinder Sandhu was no less effective, as he too picked 4 wickets in 8.3 overs, giving away just 28 runs.
Consequently, Australia A showed the hosts how to bat and bowl in their home conditions.