Katich, Watson tons take Australia to 319/1
Chandigarh: Simon Katich and Shane Watson exposed the toothless bowling attack of Board President`s XI by hitting a sparkling century each and put Australia in a strong position at 319 for one on the first day of the three-day tour game here on Saturday.
Australian batsmen put the BP XI bowling attack on a leatherhunt all day long as they could taste only one success in the whole of 90 overs -- that of Watson (115), who fell to leg-spinner Piyush Chawla after facing 199 balls and hitting 16 boundaries.
Katich gave way for other batsmen to spend time at the middle after tea at individual score of 104 which he made from 178 balls and with the help of 15 fours.
Captain Ricky Ponting, who opted to bat after winning the toss, was on 42 while his deputy Michael Clarke was on 43 at the draw of stumps at the Sector 16 Stadium here.
Left-handed Katich was dropped twice, first by Shikhar Dhawan off Jaidev Unadkat while on 60 and by Ajinkaya Rahane off Pragyan Ojha two runs later.
Watson and Katich did not take much time to get accustomed to the pace and bounce of the wicket and were never troubled by the BP XI bowlers, except for left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha.
Only Ojha could pose problems for the Australian batsmen with some turn he extracted from the pitch, which played on the slower side because of heavy rain earlier in the week.
Ojha was miserly as he conceded just 23 runs off the 21 overs he bowled in the day.
The Australian pair weaved a partnership of 207 runs for the opening wicket -- the highest for the wicket on this ground in a first-class match -- before Katich retired after 58 overs.
Watson, who was joined by Ponting, tried to accelerate the scoring rate. He, however, gifted his wicket while trying to play a big shot and was cleaned up by Chawla.
Ponting and Clarke, the two seniormost batsmen of the touring side, saw off the day without further trouble to give Australia a solid start in their 30-odd day tour of India.
BP XI captain Gautam Gambhir introduced spin in the 19th over of the innings bringing in Chawla, who put brakes on the scoring rate but failed to get any breakthrough as Australia reached 88 for no loss at lunch.
The visitors brought up their 100 in the 33rd over just after the lunch while the 200 came up in the 55th over.
S Sreesanth, who was named in the India squad for the first Test starting at Mohali on October 1, opened the bowling for BP XI along with Jaidev Unadkat, but the Kerala pacer looked off-colour as he failed to put pressure on the batsmen.
Chawla was not so impressive as he conceded 120 runs from the 26 overs he bowled though he snapped up the lone wicket today.
Unadkat and Umesh Yadav conceded 65 runs each from a they 15 overs each they bowled in front of five national selectors, led by chairman Kris Srikkanth, who were watching the match.
The BP XI bowlers will have to come up with a much improved performance tomorrow if they want to give their batsmen enough time at the middle in the remaining two days ahead of the first Test at Mohali from October 1.
Watson crossed the 6,000 run mark in first class cricket when he reached 60 while Katich struck the 51st century of first class career.
All-rounder Steven Smith, batsman Marcus North and pacer Peter George made it to the Australian playing XI for the tour game while Phil Hughes was the 12th man.