Monday, June 24, 2024
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Sehwag, Pujara give India honours on Day 1

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Ahmedabad: Virender Sehwag cracked his first century in more than two years as India came up with a solid batting display to take control of the first cricket Test against England here on Thursday.

Sehwag, who has been woefully out of form for a long time, notched up his 23rd Test century with a run-a-ball 117, while Cheteshwar Pujara was just two runs short of his ton as the hosts cruised to 323 for four at close on the opening day.

Giving Pujara company was comeback man Yuvraj Singh, who was batting on 24, on a dry Sardar Patel track, which has already shown signs of assisting the slow bowlers.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann did the damage for the visitors, scalping all the four wickets that fell, and pegged India back to some extent after the roaring start Sehwag provided to the team.

Sachin Tendulkar (13) and Virat Kohli (19) could not capitalise on the 134-run partnership for the first wicket between Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir (45).

Opener Sehwag, playing his 99th Test, blasted 16 fours and a six in his usual belligerent fashion, helping him to his first century since November, 2010.

He dominated the rival bowling attack after the hosts opted to bat on a bone-dry pitch, offering low bounce and some turn.

Sehwag was given good support by Gambhir who scored his runs in 111 balls and Pujara, who was closing in on his second Test century after batting watchfully for almost four hours and facing 181 balls. He hit 13 fours.

Pujara and Yuvraj saw off the new ball till close after offie Swann turned around the visitors’ fortunes by sending back Gambhir and then Sehwag, Tendulkar and Kohli in quick succession.

The 34-year-old Sehwag batted for 209 minutes before being bowled by Swann while trying to go for a slog-sweep from outside the off.

This was his second century against England, reaching the mark thirty minutes to tea. And apart from Sehwag, only Pujara could play Swann with some ease.

Apart from his century partnership runs with Gambhir, who batted for 127 minutes and struck four fours, Sehwag added 90 runs for the second wicket with Pujara, who batted for close to two sessions to remain unbeaten.

Swann, easily the standout bowler for England on a track offering turn, spun the visitors back into the game half an hour before tea with the dismissals of Sehwag and Tendulkar, who entered his 24th year in international cricket today.

Swann, who had dismissed Gambhir early in the session, led the visitors’ fightback in an excellent post-lunch second spell of 4-0-11-2.

Later, the off-spinner, who needed eight wickets before the game to reach the 200 mark, deceived Kohli who was dropped by Jonathan Trott at slip off the same bowler when on four. He bowled the batsman through the gate with a sharply spinning ball as he stretched forward to defend.

England took the second new ball in the 87th over but could not get another breakthrough before stumps. The visitors probably missed the left-arm spin of Monty Panesar who was not included in the playing 11 as they preferred to go in with three pacers.

Earlier, thanks largely to Sehwag, who came into the game after scoring a century in the Ranji Trophy game against UP, the hosts scored 120 without losing a wicket in the first session and added another 130 runs in the second for the loss of the two openers and Tendulkar.

After a fruitless first session, England struck early after lunch when Swann bowled Gambhir in the second over from the pavilion end, before switching ends to send back Sehwag and Tendulkar in the space of 22 balls. He dismissed Kohli too from the same end.

Sehwag and Tendulkar were both out to attacking shots, the latter hitting it straight to Samit Patel, while Kohli was beaten by the turn. (PTI)

SCORECARD

India 1st innings:

G Gambhir b Swann 45

V Sehwag b Swann 117

C Pujara batting 98

S Tendulkar c Patel b Swann 13

V Kohli b Swann 19

Y Singh batting 24

Extras: (B-1, LB-5, NB-1) 7

Total: (4 wkts, 90 overs) 323

FOW: 1-134, 2-224, 3-250, 4-283

Bowling: J Anderson 17-3-66-0, S Broad 17-1-71-0, T Bresnan 10-0-56-0, G Swann 32-5-85-4, S Patel 14-2-39-0

 

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