India will head to Adelaide tomorrow with a clearer idea about their batting order and plenty of overs in their bowlers' legs after their four-day tour match against the Cricket Australia XI ended in a stalemate.
In reply to India's first innings of 358, the CA XI amassed 544 from 151.1 overs through Harry Nielsen's 100, Aaron Hardie's 86 and half-centuries to D'Arcy Short (74) and Max Bryant (62).
The CA XI's 186-run lead was swallowed by India openers Murali Vijay (129) and KL Rahul (62) as the visitors reached 2-211 before the teams shook hands with 15 minutes left to play at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Vijay brought the small but vocal contingent of Indian supports to life late in the day as he demolished the off-spin of Jake Carder, taking the Western Australian for four sixes, including 26 runs off his first over.
The tourists entered the match with question marks around the composition of their batting order, primarily the opening combination and pivotal No.6 spot.
Young gun Prithvi Shaw dazzled on day two with a 69-ball 66 after the first day was completely washed out, but a shocking ankle injury on Friday has seen the 19-year-old ruled out of the first Test and in a race against time to be fit for the second on December 14 in Perth.
It now appears as though incumbent Rahul and veteran Vijay will face the new ball in Adelaide from Thursday.
The pair, who have batted together 25 times at Test level, opened the batting in India's second innings and put on 109 in 31 overs. Rahul made just three in the first innings but was far more composed in scoring 62 in the second dig. Vijay, listed as 14th man on India's team sheet, batted only once in the match and hit 16 fours and five sixes.
Perhaps the only concern was a blow to Vijay's thumb off the bowling of express Tasmania quick Aaron Summers, but the batter continued on after a quick visit from the team physio.
If the opening partnership is settled than No.6 still remains something of a mystery. Batting-allrounder Hanuma Vihari posted 53 from 88 balls in the first innings at fourth-drop, while his rival for the spot – Rohit Sharma – made 40 one spot lower.
In addition to his runs, Vihari bowled 12 overs of off-spin for figures of 0-34 on a pitch that offered very little spin nor sideways movement for the fast bowlers.
Vihari batted again, making 16 not out, and his presence as a fifth bowling option could be enough to win him selection, but how useful his off-spinners will be on a lush Adelaide Oval wicket remains to be seen.
Chief spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (2-122) sent down 40 overs to the CA XI, while paceman Mohammed Shami (3-97 from 24 overs), Umesh Yadav (1-113 from 28) and Ishant Sharma (1-73 from 22) gained valuable time in the middle.
The India attack looked disinterested for most to the outing as the CA XI batters filled their boots.
Hardie looked set to add a century to his impressive 4-50 before edging Ishant behind, just reward for the towering quick who bowled well on Saturday.
Nielsen cruised to his century but not long after he reached triple figures, Virat Kohli brought himself onto bowl and dismissed the South Australian with a rank long-hop to the embarrassment of the India captain.
The bottom four of the CA XI put on 203 in an opening session that lasted three hours with the hosts none down at the scheduled lunch break. Quick Jasprit Bumrah and left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav were not named by the visitors at the toss but bowled after the main break, and it took Bumrah just seven deliveries to take the last wicket.
The match concluded in what was effectively a centre-wicket hit-out as Rahul and Vijay batted together through tea until the former chipped a Short full toss to Bryant at mid-wicket.
With the last hour called, Vijay opened his shoulders and crashed 26 from Carder's over, a series that reads 4,4,6,2,6,4 to reach his century.
He followed it with two more sixes off the Western Australian as the light tower shadows stretched across the iconic ground.
His dismissal – bowled by leg-spinner Dan Fallins for 129 from 132 balls – sparked the end of the match as the Indians now head to Adelaide to complete their preparations for the first Test.
CA XI: D'Arcy Short, Max Bryant, Jake Carder, Sam Whiteman (c), Param Uppal, Harry Nielsen (wk), Jonathan Merlo, Aaron Hardie, Luke Robins, Jackson Coleman, Daniel Fallins. Aaron Summers (12th) #CAXIvIND— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 28, 2018
India: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, R Jadeja, M Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Murali Vijay. #CAXIvIND— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 28, 2018
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 6-10: First Test, Adelaide Oval
Dec 14-18: Second Test, Perth Stadium
Dec 26-30: Third Test, MCG
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar