M A I N   N E W S

Sehwag puts Pak attack to sword
Hits career-best unbeaten 228
M. R. Mishra

Multan, March 28
Virender Sehwag smashed a career-best unbeaten 228 as India piled up a commanding 356 for two to set the stage for a huge first innings score on the opening day of their first cricket Test on Pakistan soil in 15 years.

The 24-year-old Sehwag also became the highest Indian scorer against Pakistan ever and the third to hit up a double century against the arch-rivals en route his blitzkrieg which included 30 fours and five sixes.

Giving Sehwag company at close on day one was little master Sachin Tendulkar, looking solid with an unbeaten 60 as the Indians toyed with a listless home attack before a surprisingly sparse crowd at the plush Multan cricket stadium.

The duo’s unbroken 183-run stand for the third wicket ensured India a flying start to the historic series after stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid won the toss and elected to bat on what appeared a good batting track.

The day clearly belonged to Sehwag, who notched up his sixth Test century on an eventful opening day which saw the Indians maintain a brisk scoring rate right through.

The right-handed Delhi opener, who often draws flak for his tendency to throw away his wicket after getting the starts, showed excellent judgement in his shot selection during his marathon 271-ball knock which saw him emerge as the highest scorer against Pakistan, eclipsing Sanjay Manjrekar’s 218 recorded in Lahore during the 1989-90 series.

With Sehwag going on the rampage at one end with a barrage of breath-taking shots, Tendulkar was quite content in playing second fiddle, his 60 runs coming from 144 balls with nine fours.

The start to Pakistan’s 300th Test match turned out to be rather nightmarish as the bowlers got no assistance from the track, hosting its third Test match till date.

The Indian openers provided the ideal platform with a 160-run partnership between Aakash Chopra (42) and Sehwag.

The home team was made to pay a heavy price for not only dropping the dangerous Sehwag twice — Mohammad Sami and Saqlain Mushtaq being the culprits — but for also allowing the Indian openers to settle down by not making them play enough balls in the morning session.

Sehwag did not let the dropped catches disturb his concentration as he went about playing with the usual flourish. He also curbed his tendency to slash at balls outside the off stump which came as a refreshing change.

The Delhi batsman took a couple of runs off Abdul Razzak to notch up his maiden double century shortly after the last drinks break to get a standing ovation from his teammates in the dressing room. Sehwag’s previous best was 195 scored against Australia at Melbourne in December last year.

Stand-in captain Rahul Dravid (6), who had to take up the job of leading the team in the absence of an injured Saurav Ganguly, was the only batsman who did not trouble the scorers.

The Indians lost the wickets of Chopra and Dravid in the space of three overs but the Pakistani joy was shortlived as Sehwag and Tendulkar ensured that there were no further setbacks.

The famed Pakistani fast bowlers — Shoaib Akhtar, Sami and Shabbir Ahmed — lacked the sting to pose much problems for the formidable Indian batsmen who plundered runs at will while off-spinner Mushtaq, recalled into the Test team after a long gap, could also not make much of an impact on the placid pitch.

Sehwag’s belligerence enabled the visitors to score more than 100 runs in each session of the day, the last yielding as many as 132 runs.

The Indian innings got off to a flourishing start as the opening pair put on 160 runs before Mushtaq provided the breakthrough by getting rid of Chopra.

Resuming at the lunch score of 104 for no loss, Chopra (42), who was quite content playing the sheet anchor’s role, went for a forward defensive shot but failed to control it and was caught by Imran Farhat at short leg, much to the jubilation of the home team.

Chopra looked quite comfortable in the middle but just like in the Australian tour where he often got out in the 40s and 50s, he lost his wicket when he was well set, having batted for 163 minutes.

The visitors suffered a big setback when Dravid returned to the pavilion with the addition of just 13 runs to the Indian total.

The dependable Dravid tried to hook a short pitched delivery from Mohammad Sami but could not get a proper hold of the ball and spooned a simple catch to Yasir Hameed at square leg, leaving India 173 for two in the 43rd over.

Despite the two quick dismissals, Sehwag continued to play his shots picking up Shoaib Akhtar for special treatment, gliding him to the third man region for a boundary and then completing his century with a six in the same over.

Tendulkar, who joined the action after Dravid’s dismissal, was quite content in playing cautiously while his partner Sehwag attacked the tired bowlers.

But gradually Tendulkar also opened up to play some delightful shots to notch up his half century.

The star batsman was a picture of concentration during his stay at the crease as he did not play any risky shots, collecting most of his runs with orthodox strokes.

Mushtaq, sporting a long beard, was the most expensive among the bowlers giving away 123 runs from 23 overs while taking one wicket.


India (1st innings):

Chopra c Farhat b Mushtaq 42

Sehwag batting 228

Dravid c Hameed b Sami 6

Tendulkar batting 60

Extras (b-4, lb-10, nb-6) 20

Total (for 2 wkts, 90 overs) 356

Fall of wickets: 1/160, 2/173.

Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 18-4-60-0, Mohammad Sami 18-2-54-1, Shabbir Ahmed 20-6-64-0, Saqlain Mushtaq 23-2-123-1, Abdul Razzak 11-2-41-0. — PTI


India vs Pak Test: the first day’s highlights

Multan, March 28
The following are the highlights of the first day’s play between India and Pakistan in the first Test here today;

Virender Sehwag (228 not out) posted his career-best Test score — his first century against Pakistan — his sixth in Test cricket.

* * * *

Virender Sehwag completed his century with a six off Shoaib Akhtar and became the sixth Indian to reach a hundred with a six, joining Polly Umrigar, Kapil Dev, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

* * * *

Sehwag, who has recorded five sixes in the course of his double century, actually became the first Indian to hit five sixes in an innings twice in Test cricket. During his previous highest innings of 195 against Australia at Melbourne in December last year, he had first hit five sixes in an innings.

* * * *

Virender Sehwag, with his double century off 222 balls, posted the fastest double century by an Indian in terms of balls faced and the fifth fastest in Test cricket.

* * * *

Sehwag’s double hundred is now the fastest in terms of balls on Pakistan soil. The previous record was held by Pakistan’s Zaheer Abbas, who had recorded his double century off 241 balls against India at Lahore in 1982-83.

* * * *

Sehwag’s innings is now the highest individual innings for India against Pakistan, bettering Sanjay Manjrekar’s 218 at Lahore in 1989-90.

* * * *

Sehwag’s unbeaten 228 is now the highest individual innings at Multan Cricket Stadium, bettering Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq’s 138 not out vs. Bangladesh in 2003.

* * * *

The 160-run partnership between Virender Sehwag and Akash Chopra is the best for the first wicket by a visiting team against Pakistan at Multan, eclipsing the 28-run stand between Hannan Sarkar and Javed Omer for Bangladesh in September 2003.

* * * *

The aforesaid partnership is now the second best for the first wicket at Multan — the best is 168 between Saeed Anwar and Taufeeq Umar vs. Bangladesh in 2001-02.

* * * *

Sehwag and Chopra were associated in a century stand for the first wicket for the fourth time.

* * * *

Sehwag and Chopra became the first Indian pair to be associated in a century stand for the first wicket in three consecutive away Tests — 141 at Melbourne, 123 at Sydney and 160 at Multan.

* * * *

India’s total of 356 for two is the highest on the first day of Test on Pakistan soil. The said Indian total is the highest for India against Pakistan in a day’s play, eclipsing the 334 scored by them on the first day of the 1982-83 Faisalabad Test.

* * * *

The 183-run unfinished partnership for the third wicket between Sehwag and Tendulkar is the best for any wicket at Multan, surpassing the 168 between Saeed Anwar and Taufeeq Umar for the first wicket for Pakistan vs. Bangladesh in 2001-02.

* * * *

Sachin posted his 38th fifty — his third against Pakistan.

* * * *

Sachin’s 60 not out is his highest in Pakistan, surpassing his 59 at Faisalabad in 1989-90.

* * * *

Sachin, with 5060 runs in 65 Tests, surpassed Sunil Gavaskar’s overseas aggregate of 5055 in 60 Tests. — UNI

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