Will Pucovski
Will Pucovski, who retired hurt after being struck on the helmet while batting for Australia A, is doubtful for the first Test against India next week. Image Credit: REUTERS

Melbourne: Opening batsman Will Pucovski retired hurt in Australia A’s tour match against India A on Tuesday after being struck in the helmet by a bouncer, raising fears about his fitness for the first Test against India next week. The three-day game ended in a draw.

Pucovski, who was tipped to partner with opener Joe Burns at Adelaide Oval, was hit by a short ball from paceman Kartik Tyagi when on 23 late on the third and final day at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney.

The 22-year-old dropped his bat and remained on hands and knees on the pitch for a few moments. After being examined by a trainer, Pucovski got to his feet and was able to walk off unassisted.

However, given his history of concussion problems, Australia’s selectors are likely to be very cautious about risking him for his debut in the pink-ball test at Adelaide Oval starting Dec. 17.

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It was again worrying signs at the top as the India A batsmen failed to stick it out at the crease during the second innings. While the game ended in a draw, at one stage it looked like the Australia A unit would walk away with a win but it was Wriddhiman Saha who showed some fight and managed to keep the host bowlers at bay.

While the Ajinkya Rahane-led side declared their second innings at 189/9 - setting Australia A a target of 131 in about 15 overs - no batsman got going in the second innings and at one stage, the side was looking down the barrel at 143/9. But in the end, Saha managed to salvage some pride as he played an unbeaten knock of 54 runs.

Australia A lost the wicket of Burns (0) in the very first over of the innings and after that, the side looked to play out the remaining overs. In the end, the three-day match ended in a draw.

Earlier, resuming day three at 286/8, Australia A added 20 more runs to their tally and the hosts finally declared at 306/9, with a lead of 59 runs over the visitors. Cameron Green remained unbeaten on 125 while for India, Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj scalped three wickets each.

For India A, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill once again failed to get a big score behind their backs. Both the opening batsmen were dismissed by Green after playing knocks of 19 and 29, respectively. Gill looked good during his short stint at the crease, hitting five boundaries, but his dismissal left a lot to be desired for someone looking to make it into the Test team.

Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored a fighting 54 in the first innings, failed to register a run in the second innings and was dismissed for a duck by Michael Neser. Hanuma Vihari then joined skipper Ajinkya Rahane and the duo somewhat retrieved the innings for the visitors. The two put on 54 runs for the fourth wicket but as soon as India A started to look settled, Michael Neser provided the breakthrough of Vihari (28). Soon after, Mark Steketee dismissed Rahane (28), Ravichandran Ashwin (8), and Kuldeep Yadav (0), putting the visitors on the backfoot at 129/7, 70 runs ahead of Australia A.

Brief Scores: India 247/9d and 189/9d (Wriddhiman Saha 54*, Shubman Gill 29; Mark Steketee 5-37); Australia A 306/9 (Cameron Green 125*, Tim Paine 44; Umesh Yadav 3-48) and 52/1 (Marcus Harris 25*, Will Pucovski 23; Umesh Yadav 1-14).