Perth - The Indians needed a pair of half-centuries from Rohit Sharma and Manish Pandey to patch up an underwhelming batting performance, but their bowlers had little trouble defending 249 against Western Australia XI in the warm-up one-dayer at the WACA.
This was India's final practice match before facing Australia in the first ODI on Tuesday and everyone in their squad was given a go, except fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who was benched as a precaution owing to a cut on his finger. "He's perfectly alright," insisted bowling coach B Arun. "Just before the game, he was bowling on the ground, he's been bowling 25-30 balls on the ground. It's an opportunity for us to try other boys and with Shami being injured it becomes even more important for us to check who we are going to play in the next game"
So Barinder Sran (7-1-22-0) and Rishi Dhawan (7-1-28-2) were given the new ball and there were good signs - only three fours were hit off their bowling in the first 10 overs. "He's a bowler with a lot of potential," Arun said of Sran. "He's been pretty impressive in these two games that he's played. Being a left-armer too, gives us an added advantage and we have a bowler we can groom in the future for us." The ones India will likely bank on in the present - R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja - were able to further the squeeze in the middle overs. Western Australia XI was bowled out for 185 in 49.2 overs, which meant that they faced one ball more than the Indians did.
Having opted to bat, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were dismissed inside six overs. Both men had shown excellent form in the warm-up T20 on Friday, but that did offer the rest of the line-up some match practice. Rohit , who had run himself out in the last game, played steadily to reach his half-century off 64 balls, with five fours and two sixes. He would strike one of each kind of boundary before he was caught spectacularly by D'Arcy Short at slip.
For most of his innings, Rohit had the company of Ajinkya Rahane and their 88-run stand for the third wicket came at a healthy 5.33 per over. Rahane managed three fours in his 53-ball 41 before chopping legspinner James Muirhead onto his stumps.
Then the Indians decided to test some of their lower-middle order options. A flatfooted Gurkeerat Singh received a lovely outswinger and nicked off for 6 off 13 balls. Drew Porter was the wicket-taker and he finished with 5 for 37 from 9.1 overs. The 30-year old fast bowler was the main reason for the Indians finding themselves at 171 for 6 with MS Dhoni back in the pavilion for 15 off 35 balls.
But Manish Pandey was able to progress fluently at No. 6. He struck only three fours, but was able to maintain a strike rate near 100. His 58 off 59 was vital to India crossing 200. Jadeja chipped in with 26 off 25 balls, but his greater contribution was working in tandem with Ashwin in the second innings. The two spinners got through their 20 overs for only 70 runs and picked up four wickets. Axar Patel provided a couple of breakthroughs as well and maintained an economy rate of 3.62.
"The idea of playing practice games, and the fact that we are playing on the same ground [as the first ODI] also gives us the advantage," Arun said. "Though we have played a lot of cricket in Australia recently, but then again coming back after playing a lot of cricket in the subcontinent, we are getting used to the ground on which we are playing."
There were only two Western Australia XI batsmen who managed a strike-rate of 80. Opener Jake Carder (45) and No. 7 Jaron Morgan (50) were the only sources of concerted resistance.

Scoreboard

INDIANS :
RG Sharma c Short b Muirhead 67
S Dhawan c Muirhead b Porter 4
V Kohli lbw b Porter 7
AM Rahane b Muirhead 41
Gurkeerat Singh c Inglis b Porter 6
MK Pandey c Carder b Moody 58
MS Dhoni st Inglis b O'Connor 15
RA Jadeja c Carder b Porter 26
AR Patel not out 8
R Dhawan run out (Moody) 0
R Ashwin c Inglis b Porter 4
EXTRAS: (lb 1, w 12) 13
TOTAL: (all out; 49.1 overs) 249
FOW: 1-4, 2-19, 3-107, 4-125, 5-131, 6-171, 7-231, 8-243, 9-244, 10-249.
BOWLING: DJM Moody 6-1-24-1, DN Porter 9.1-0-37-5, M Turner 5-0-33-0, AA Bevilaqua 9-0-37-0, JM Muirhead 10-0-55-2, LN O'Connor 6-0-37-1, WG Bosisto 4-0-25-0.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA XI:
WG Bosisto c Dhoni b Yadav 13
JM Carder lbw b Jadeja 45
DJM Short b Ashwin 10
NR Hobson c Dhoni b R Dhawan 4
JP Inglis b Patel 17
DN Porter c Dhoni b Ashwin 10
J Morgan c RG Sharma b R Dhawan 50
JM Muirhead c Gurkeerat Singh b Jadeja 11
DJM Moody c & b Patel 8
M Turner not out 2
LN O'Connor c Yadav b Gurkeerat Singh 0
EXTRAS: (lb 6, w 9) 15
TOTAL: (all out; 49.2 overs) 185
FOW: 1-39, 2-61, 3-70, 4-96, 5-98, 6-127, 7-154, 8-182, 9-183, 10-185.
BOWLING: UT Yadav 7-0-29-1, BB Sran 7-1-22-0, R Dhawan 7-1-28-2, RA Jadeja 10-0-38-2, R Ashwin 10-1-32-2, AR Patel 8-0-29-2, Gurkeerat Singh 0.2-0-1-1.
TOSS: Indians
UMPIRES: NR Johnstone and DM Koch
MATCH REFEREE: DJ Harper