Sehwag, Pujara put India ahead on Day 1
Virender Sehwag’s run-a-ball 117 and Cheteshwar Pujara’s composed 98* helped India post a respectable 323/4 on Day 1 of the first Test against England at Ahmedabad on Thursday.
Not only could England’s seamers get a breakthrough in the first session, they also bled runs as India motored on to 120/0 at Lunch. Sehwag helped India capitalize on the decision to bat first, bringing up his 50 off just 45b. While he wasn’t as fluent as Sehwag, Gambhir did manage to rein in the tentative pokes. He was uncomfortable against Graeme Swann though and a dangerously close attempt at a cut saw him being bowled soon after lunch.
Cheteshwar Pujara eased into the conditions with Sehwag scoring freely at the other end. Pujara too began to score at a good rate, adding the bulk of the runs in the 90 run partnership for the second wicket. Sehwag brought up his 100 off 90b with a mow off Swann but was later bowled for 117 by the offspinner.
England spoilt their chances with a number of dropped catches, one of which would have ended Pujara’s knock when he had made only 8 runs. Graeme Swann’s persistent lines and lengths however saw them fight back towards the end of the second session. Sachin Tendulkar’s attempt to dominate Swann was encouraged by placing long on shorter. He couldn’t hit a length delivery straight enough though and holed out to Samit Patel who didn’t have to move an inch at long on. Virat Kohli played out a maiden over as India went to Tea at 250/3.
The pace trio led by Jimmy Anderson with Broad and Bresnan failed to bowl consistent lines and their unflattering economy rates forced Cook to keep Swann on at the other end for extended spells. Swann varied his turn on deliveries while maintaining a terrific pitch map. This along with occasionally uneven bounce meant the batsmen were more cautious playing him. Virat Kohli picked up the pace after taking 20 deliveries to get off the mark. He played fine strokes, displaying an improvement on his already formidable flicks and looked set to take India safely to stumps with Pujara who was playing a chanceless knock at the other end. A huge bat pad gap and a ball from Swann that spun sharply however ended his stay on 19 (67b, 4x3).
With more than hour to go for stumps, Yuvraj Singh was defensive early in his return to the Test side. Playing Tests for the first time since his successful fight against cancer, the southpaw played out the spinners and even the pacers once the new ball was taken.
The last over of the day saw Pujara hit two boundaries to take his personal score to 98* (181b, 4x13). Yuvraj remained not out on 24* (47b, 4x2). England fought back hard to give away just 73 runs in the third session compared to 120 and 130 in the preceding sessions but it was still India’s day as they posted a strong 323/4 at Stumps on Day 1.