Mitch Marsh boosted his hopes of a Test recall on Saturday in Mumbai, but Australia’s spinners were taught a lesson in subcontinent frustration by aggressive young gun Shreyas Iyer.
Shaun Marsh, who was selected ahead of Usman Khawaja for the three-day clash with India A in Mumbai, and Steve Smith posted composed centuries on Friday.
Mitch Marsh picked up where his brother left off, scoring 75 on Saturday as the visitors declared at 7-469 shortly after lunch.
Marsh and Glenn Maxwell appear locked in a battle for the vacant No.6 spot in the Test side. The showdown could be decided by whether selectors regard Marsh’s medium pace or Maxwell’s offspin as more useful in Pune, where the four-Test series starts on Thursday.
“I’ve been working on some gameplans over the last couple of months for this tour,” Marsh said.
“Probably against the spin, just my defence.
“Hopefully if I get a chance in the big dance, I can implement it.”
Maxwell didn’t deliver a single over on day two of Australia’s only tour game before the first Test. India A were 4-176 at stumps, with Iyer unbeaten on 85 from 93 balls.
“All Indian players attack our spinners on the subcontinent, he did that to Nathan Lyon,” Marsh said of Iyer.
“Nathan Lyon bowled really well to him and sort of came back.”
Marsh was handed the new ball in the absence of rested pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. He bowled with good pace and kept things tight, but failed to create a breakthrough.
Jackson Bird was Australia’s most effective and economical bowler, delivering seven maidens to finish with 2-15 from 11 overs.
Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe, the spinners who Smith will lean on most in the next six weeks, had few answers to Iyer’s confident stroke play. They finished the day with combined figures of 2-131 from 31 overs.
Iyer achieved fame in India’s first-class competition at age 20 when he scored a triple-ton from just 175 balls. The right-hander, who entered the fray after Lyon dismissed Akhil Herwadkar caught and bowled, hammered his first ball over the offspinner’s head.
It was the first of Iyer’s five sixes.
“I took on the challenge. I wanted to spread the field so I could easily take the singles,” Iyer said.
“It really worked out well.”
Matthew Wade showed both fitness and form in a knock of 64, which was his first innings since returning home from the recent ODI tour of New Zealand because of a back injury.
Maxwell finished unbeaten on 16, reining in his aggression during a 35-minute stay at the crease that did not feature a boundary.
Marsh also adopted a more conservative approach at Brabourne Stadium, sitting on 37 off 93 balls at one stage.
He then stroked four boundaries in the space of 10 deliveries, timing the ball in a fashion that would have pleased coach Darren Lehmann and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns.
Marsh fell victim to Shahbaz Nadeem, having earlier dispatched a delivery from the left-arm spinner for six – and almost out of the ground.
The allrounder also scored a half-century in Australia’s intra-squad game in Dubai, where he claimed the prized scalp of skipper Smith.