Jaques dominates in Cairns

A dominant, chanceless 199 from Phil Jaques was the highlight of a flawless Australia A batting display on the opening day in Cairns. The India A bowlers struggled throughout the day after winning the toss, and finished with just two wickets to show for 90 overs effort, while Australia’s strong run rate ensured a big lead with three days remaining.

Prior to returning home for the Top End Series, Jaques scored almost 1000 runs in just six matches for Worcestershire in the county season. While that form had eluded him so far in the Top End Series, today he showed his true class. India A captain Venugopal Rao inserted the Australians in the hope of some early movement following several days of wet weather in the region, but instead the Australian openers cruised to lunch scoring at almost 4 an over without losing a wicket.

After lunch the run-fest continued, with Jaques the dominant partner as the score moved past 150 without loss. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla finally got the breakthrough in the 44th over when he dismissed Chris Rogers for 55, and when Shib Paul dismissed Cosgrove in the next over, the visitors maintained some hope of an Australia A collapse. The Indians took a blow soon afterwards however, when Paul was forced to withdraw from the attack in his 14th over due to an injury.

Following Cosgrove’s dismissal, Travis Birt found his form for the first time in the Top End Series, and he supported Jaques through to his century and the tea break, albeit at the cost of some momentum in the scoring. After tea, Birt settled in for a long stay at the crease, while Jaques continued to attack the bowling, scoring at close to a run a ball between his century and the close of play. Birt also picked up the scoring as the day drew to a close, passing his 50 and rapidly closing in on a century, while Jaques moved toward 200 at the other end.

A maiden in the final over of the day ensured that Jaques would end the day on 199 not out, while Birt remains on 82 not out, in a partnership worth 189. The pair will continue tomorrow as Australia A look to press on for a large score and a declaration for the second game in a row. With Sean Marsh and Shane Watson still to come, a score of less than 500 seems unlikely, which would leave India A with a couple of tough days with the bat to save the game.

Australia A 2/361
Phil Jaques 199*, Travis Birt 82*
Shib Paul 1/48, Piyush Chawla 1/83

Australia A lead by 361 runs with 3 days remaining.

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