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AUSTRALIA V INDIA TESTS

Marsh, Smith post tons in tour match

17 February 2017

Left-hander boosts chances of Test recall with unbeaten century, while the skipper also tons up

Shaun Marsh has crafted a century to all but nail down a Test recall, while Steve Smith has also set down a marvellous subcontinent marker in Australia's first game on their tour of India.

Smith retired on 107 at tea on day one of the tourists' three-day clash with India A, having been sent in at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium.

Marsh reflects on great day for Australia in Mumbai

Marsh showed why he was set to dislodge Usman Khawaja from the Test side, retiring on 104 late in Friday's final session.

Australia were 5-327 at stumps, recovering well after the early loss of openers David Warner and Matt Renshaw.

Renshaw and Warner had some early problems against the seamers // cricket.com.au
Renshaw and Warner had some early problems against the seamers // cricket.com.au

Smith and Marsh, the only two Australians to score hundreds during their 3-0 series loss last year in Sri Lanka, both enhanced their subcontinent reputations in a 156-run stand.

The green-tinged pitch represents the antithesis of what the visitors expect to encounter on Thursday, when the four-Test series starts in Pune.

Likewise, the bowlers weren't nearly as threatening as India's spin aces Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the best and second-best Test bowlers in the world according to the ICC's rankings.

But the ease with which Smith picked gaps and stroked 13 boundaries in his first hit on tour, as the temperature neared 40 degrees, was nonetheless impressive.

The gifted right-hander donned a floppy hat while handling left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem with authority, reaching three figures in a tick over three hours during his 100th first-class game.

Smith stroked 13 boundaries on his way to an unbeaten century // cricket.com.au
Smith stroked 13 boundaries on his way to an unbeaten century // cricket.com.au

The stakes were obviously higher for Marsh, who was just as comfortable facing Nadeem.

National selectors have made no secret of how highly they rate Marsh's batting in Asia, but it is unclear if and how they will fit him into the XI for the first Test.

The answer seemingly came when Khawaja was the one specialist batsman in Australia's 16-man touring party left to run drinks in the tourists' only tune-up before the first Test.

Khawaja was dumped after two Tests in Sri Lanka last year, while Marsh scored 130 in Colombo on the same tour. It appears selectors still harbour concerns about Khawaja's ability to play spin bowling, especially in Asia, where the left-hander averages 19.16 from four Tests.

"It (the subcontinent) is a place I've always enjoyed coming to ... I feel comfortable," Marsh said after play.

"As individuals and a team it always gives you a bit of confidence when you have a good day in the warm-up game.

"It (batting with Smith) certainly does calm your nerves, he's a fantastic player.

"It was nice to spend some time out in the middle ... it was a pretty good wicket."

Ashwin and Jadeja are widely regarded as two very good reasons why Australia will struggle in their search for the nation's first Test win in India since 2004.

Wade cleared for Mumbai tour match

However, there was no early trial by spin in Mumbai. Medium pacer Navdeep Saini provided Australia's first stumbling block of the tour, removing Warner and Renshaw.

Both batsmen were caught behind, but in significantly different fashion. Warner's mistimed pull shot resulted in a skied edge, while Renshaw fell to a pinpoint delivery angled across his body.

SCORECARD


India A v Australia, three-day match, Mumbai


AUSTRALIA 1ST INNINGS 

David Warner c Kishan b Saini, 25 (30 balls, 4 x 4)

Matthew Renshaw c Kishan b Saini, 11 (41 balls 1 x 4)

Steve Smith retired out, 107 (161 balls, 12 x 4, 1 x 6)

Shaun Marsh retired out, 104 (173 balls, 11 x 4, 1 x 6)

Peter Handscomb ct Panchal b Pandya, 45 (70 balls, 3 x 4)

Mitchell Marsh not out, 16 (43 balls, 3 x 4)

Matthew Wade not out, 7 (28 balls, 1 x 4)


Glenn Maxwell


Steve O'Keefe


Jackson Bird


Nathan Lyon


TOTAL 3-327, 90 OVERS


BOWLING FIGURES 


Asoke Dinda: 15.2-1-49-0


Hardik Pandya: 17-3-64-1


Navdeep Saini: 12.4-4-27-2


Shahbaz Nadeem: 23-0-90-0


Akhil Herwadkar: 11-0-48-0


Shreyas Iyer: 7-0-32-0


PK Panchal: 4-0-11-0

Australia XI: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Mitch Marsh, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O'Keefe, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon

India A XI: Hardyik Pandya (c), Priyank Panchal, Akhil Herwadkar, Shreyas Iyer, Ankit Bawane, Rishab Pant, Ishan Kishan (wk), K Gowtham, Ashok Dinda, Shabaz Nadeem, Navdeep Saini. Reserves: B Indrajith, Rahul Singh, Mohammad Siraj

Sri Lanka taught me lots about captaincy: Smith

Australia's schedule in India

Feb 17-19, Tour match v India A, Mumbai

Feb 23-27, First Test, Pune


Mar 4-8, Second Test, Bengaluru


Mar 16-20, Third Test, Ranchi

Mar 25-29, Fourth Test, Dharamsala

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