Virender Sehwag regained his touch with a sparkling century, and
Cheteshwar Pujara is two short of his ton as India ended the
opening day of the first cricket Test against England here
Thursday at 323 for four, off-spinner Graeme Swann claiming them
India seemed to be headed for a big total looking at the way
Sehwag cracked a whirlwind 117 off 117 balls and put on 134 with
Gautam Gambhir (45) for the first wicket and Cheteshwar Pujara
went about stroking the ball in his unbeaten 98.
Swann (4/85) somewhat checked India's onslaught with a splendid
exhibition of spin bowling, even if Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar
got out to uncharacteristic strokes.
Sehwag started his innings in unusual fashion, batting cautiously,
but once he got the measure of the pitch and the attack, strokes
flowed freely. Gambhir, though not at his best, was good enough to
stay till the 100 went up on the board.
Thereafter, Pujara matched Sehwag stroke for stroke and even
outscored the Delhi dasher in their 90-run stand.
Gambhir was the first to go, trying to force Swann through square
once too often and was predictably bowled, the ball clipping the
Sehwag fell going for a wild sweep and the ball spun a fair bit to
take his middle stump.
Sachin Tendulkar (17), who got a huge reception from the Motera
crowd, failed again with the bat. The master blaster looked in
attacking mood, hitting two crisp fours but in going for another
he failed to control his lofted shot and was caught at deep
Swann cleverly coaxed the highest run-getter in Tests into playing
a loose shot after being smashed for a boundary off the previous
The off-spinner, who made his Test debut in Chennai in 2008,
bowled with great guile and craft. On more than one occasion, he
beat the Indian batsmen with his flight.
Towards the end of the day's play, he was even more dangerous as
the ball started taking a bit of a turn. The run-rate for the
Indians slowed down as Pujara and Virat Kohli (19) were made to
work much harder for their runs than in the earlier sessions.
It was again Swann's brilliance that got the better of Kohli, who
was also castled on a ball that took vicious turn.
Yuvraj Singh (batting 24), making his return to Test cricket after
battling rare germ cell cancer, looked a little dodgy initially
but grew in confidence as the innings progressed.
Both he and Pujara had to contend with fielders around the bat but
managed to hold on as India saw the day through.