Chennai: Stung by his exclusion from the Test squad, Gautam Gambhir replied in the best possible manner by hitting a sparkling century as he guided India A to a comfortable 338 for four against Australians on the opening day of their second and final warm-up game here on Saturday.
Riding on Gambhir's 112 alongwith solid half-centuries from Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary, India A batsmen dominated the proceedings for the better part of the 90 overs at the Guru Nanak College ground. En route his 33rd first-class century, Gambhir faced 162 deliveries hitting 13 fours and three sixes. Rohit was fluent during his innings of 77 while Tiwary, who recently made a comeback in competitive cricket after injury lay-off, also looked good for a big one as he was batting on 77.
For Australia, left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty staked a claim for a place in the playing XI of the first Test by claiming three for 69. The day, however, belonged to Gambhir, who was certainly egged up for the occasion and it looked as if the selection committee's decision of dropping him really spurred the seasoned left-hander as he batted with a lot of purpose.
Manoj Tiwary and Rohit Sharma also struck fine half centuries to foil Australians' bowlers on day one.
Opting to bat, Gambhir and find of the Ranji season Jiwanjyot Singh (24) saw off the first hour and half without much difficulty. Gambhir especially was watchful against the trio of left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc (0/36) and the dangerous Peter Siddle (0/30). He tried to cut down on the dab shot that had brought his downfall but did punish the loose deliveries occasionally when the pacers were in operation.
Jiwanjyot was dismissed by Doherty after an opening stand of 67 but Gambhir found an able ally in Rohit as they added 127 runs for the second wicket. Once the spinners were introduced, Gambhir was at his majestic best. Whether it was Nathan Lyon (0/97) in 20 overs or rookie left-arm spinner Ashton Agar (0/78 in 13 overs), Gambhir took them to task by using his feet brilliantly.