Tour game: Cowan stars for Chairman's XI against India

Canberra: Opener Ed Cowan strengthened his claims for inclusion in Australia's team for the first Test against India by scoring a stylish century for the Chairman's XI on Tuesday's second day of the three-day tour match against the Indians.

A day before Australian selectors name their team for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, Cowan scored a timely 109, and made sure he will be among the candidates to open the innings if allrounder Shane Watson cannot recover from injury.

Incumbent Test opener David Warner had his recent fine form run ended when he was clean bowled by Abhimanyu Mithun for just two in the first over of the Chairman's XI innings.

When stumps were drawn early because of bad light the invitation side was 215-7 in reply to India's first innings of 269.

Cowan hit 16 fours in his 154-ball innings to anchor the home team after the early loss of Warner. Two other incumbent Test players missed the chance for a good knock ahead of the first Test, with Usman Khawaja making 25 and struggling opener Phil Hughes scoring 20 when batting down the order at No.4.

Cowan steered the Chairman's XI to 184 when he was the fourth man out but the hosts suffered a minor collapse before the end of play, losing its next three wickets for 30 runs.

Off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin finished the day with 4-32 from 15 overs.

Earlier, Victoria left-armer Jon Holland took 6 for 70 as India was all out for 269 in the 80th over after winning the toss and batting.

Holland claimed the last five wickets to fall, including Test captain M.S. Dhoni for 3, V.V.S. Laxman, clean bowled for 15, and top-scorer Virat Kohli for 132.

Kohli faced 171 balls and hit 18 fours and two sixes in an innings which retrieved an otherwise limp batting effort.

Cowan was equally the dominating figure in the home team's innings. The 29-year-old continued a strong run of form after making an unbeaten 145 for Tasmania last week and 210 runs in his past three innings for the Chairman's XI, which has played India twice.

Hughes' chances of playing the Boxing Day Test continued to fade and, after surviving an earlier edge through slips, he attempted a sweep too far from his body and popped up an easy catch.

The match concludes Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Australia coach Mickey Arthur said all rounder Dan Christian has made a strong case to be named in Australia's team for the Melbourne Test, the first match of a four-Test series.

Arthur and his co-selectors are expected to name a squad including Watson and opener Shaun Marsh, despite their current injuries. Watson has a hamstring strain and Marsh a back injury.

Christian has been in blazing form for South Australia, scoring 475 Sheffield Shield runs at 59.37 this season.

"Our preference for balance of the team is always to try to have an allrounder and if we've got one who we think is capable of doing the job, he will play," Arthur said.

"Dan Christian has done superbly well for South Australia. Stats will tell you that he could possibly be in our top six batters."

Bureau Report

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