Rain stops play in India practice match

Canberra: Fresh spell of rain forced players indoors after the visiting Indians had reached 51 for 1 from 16 overs on the first day of their three-day practice match against Cricket Australia Chairman`s XI here today.

The Indians lost Virender Sehwag (12) after the opener guided Peter George into gully wherein Alex Doolan picked up a smart low catch.

Gautam Gambhir (24) and Ajinkya Rahane (14) held firm at the two ends though the former has more than one moment of discomfort against a decent home attack of Doug Bollinger and George.

Gambhir played and missed quite a few times and once was even rapped painfully on his fingers by fast bowler Jason Behrendorff which needed treatment from the dressing room.

It is India`s last practice game before the opening Test against Australia from December 26 and was scheduled to start 1100 hrs (local time) but a soggy outfield following overnight rain delayed the proceedings until after the lunch.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on pace spearhead Zaheer Khan who is returning to the Indian squad after a five-month injury layoff.

Among the notable absentees from the 13 playing from the visitors` side are Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, besides two medium-fast bowlers, Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar.

It`s an open-ended fixture with 13 members turning up for both sides. While Indians are keen to test themselves before the first Test, the hosts have quite a few Test regulars and hopefuls trying to steel up for future engagements.

The big names in the Chairman`s XI include skipper David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Philip Hughes and Doug Bollinger.