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Sehwag 117, Pujara 98 batting; Swann checks India

Thursday November 15, 2012 06:55:24 PM, IANS

Ahmedabad: 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 all.

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 off-stump.

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 mid-wicket.

Swann cleverly coaxed the highest run-getter in Tests into playing a loose shot after being smashed for a boundary off the previous ball.

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.




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