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Rahul 74 in vain as India loses to WA XI on fast WACA pitch

Western Australia XI 168 for 8 (Hobson 64, Short 52, Ashwin 3-32) beat Native Americans 132 for 8 (Rahul 74, Lance Morris 2-23, Kelly 2-26) with 36 runs

KL Rahul made a patient 74, but India struggled on a fast WACA field against a strong WA XI attack in a 36-run defeat ahead of the T20 World Cup.

After a tight 13-run win in their first warm-up on Monday, India’s batters other than stand-in captain Rahul were thwarted in their pursuit. Hardik Pandya was India’s second-highest scorer with 17. Regular captains Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli didn’t bat, though they fielded during the innings of WA XI.

In the pursuit of 169, Indian openers Rahul and RIshabh Pant started slowly against the effective charge of BBL champion Perth Scorchers. Pant again struggled to get fluid as he swung, missing on several attempts at punches against Jason Behrendorff’s accurate left arm pace.

Pant finally made contact, but was in the deep end as India’s top order looked awkward on the bouncy castle. After being held back, in-form speedster Lance Morris came over in the seventh and showed why he is arguably the fastest bowler in Australia.

Morris came out of a Player-of-the-Match appearance for WA against New South Wales last week, throwing sharp from the start and it proved too much for Deepak Hooda hollowing out.

After a brief counter-attack, Pandya fell on the left arm of young Hamish McKenzie and left India at 58 for 3, with Rahul being particularly slow. India’s required run rate spiraled out of control and Rahul was left unsupported as his teammates threw away their wickets.

Rahul was the exception, as he struck carefully before opening with a pair of sixes in the 18th over from Behrendorff to give India a sniff of an unlikely win. But his dismissal in the next over effectively cut the match as India split their warm-up matches in Perth.

WA XI controlled the game the entire time after opting to bat in sunny conditions. Their punching power was boosted by the inclusion of BBL star Josh Philippe, but the opener went to Arshdeep Singh in the third over.

As in the first game, quicks Arshdeep and Bhuvneshwar Kumar conjured up a sharp bounce on a fast deck, but after that wickets were harder to come by.

Veteran spinner R Ashwin, who didn’t play Monday, came over on offense in the sixth and was promptly crushed by D’Arcy Short, who teamed up with Nick Hobson to form a blistering 110-run partnership.

Hobson, who plays for Perth Scorchers and is an accountant in his day job, was particularly combative against the spinners, hitting four sixes in his 41-ball knock.

But his dismissal caused a WA collapse with Ashwin getting into a good rhythm after a rocky start with wickets in consecutive balls to remove captain Ashton Turner and Sam Fanning, who played in game one with half a century but the 21-year-old ill-advised tried to reverse-sweep his first ball.

India was sharp on the field, marked by two direct hits, and well drafted by Rahul, although Captain Rohit still gave instructions.

Kohli didn’t play in the two warm-up games in Perth, much to the disappointment of the locals, but did field and spend time on the first slip and deep. He also jogged laps before playing.

A strong crowd of 2,500 fans attended and the AUD 5 entry fee went to the WA Cricket Foundation.

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