Bloemfontein: Sachin Tendulkar and newcomer Virendra Sehwag hit centuries as India fought back after losing four early wickets on the first day of the first Test against South Africa at Springbok Park on Saturday. India, sent in to bat, crashed to 68 for four before Tendulkar and Sehwag put on 220 in a thrilling partnership. India finished the day in a strong position on 372 for seven. Tendulkar made a masterly 155 and Sehwag scored a highly impressive 105. It was a dramatic turnaround after South African captain Shaun Pollock's decision to make India bat on a well-grassed pitch paid early dividends. Tendulkar dominated the strike and the scoring as he raced to his 26th Test century off 114 balls. But Sehwag played some fine strokes of his own as he became the 11th Indian to make a century on debut, reaching the landmark after facing 157 balls. India was in deep trouble with its last two recognised batsmen at the crease. But Sehwag showed good temperament, playing a supporting role as Tendulkar went on the attack. The pair posted a century partnership in just 67 minutes off 98 balls, with Tendulkar making 74 of the runs. At tea they had been together for 152 minutes. There were 15 fours and a six in Tendulkar's century, his third against South Africa. He passed 7,000 Test runs when he reached 81. His 26th century put him joint fourth on the world all-time list with Australian captain Steve Waugh, behind fellow countryman Sunil Gavaskar (34), and Australians Don Bradman (29) and Allan Border (27). The 220 partnership was made in 199 minutes off 289 balls, of which Sehwag faced just 119. Sehwag then found support in another new cap, wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta, in a sixth- wicket stand of 63 before he was bowled by Pollock in the fifth over with the second new ball. The day had started on a totally different note for both teams. Pollock had Rahul Dravid caught at second slip in the fifth over before recalled fast bowler Mornantau Hayward struck twice in successive overs to dismiss Shiv Sundar Das and Venkat Sai Laxman. Hayward bowled Das for nine off an inside edge, then ended a threatening innings of 32 by Laxman, who was caught down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Mark Boucher. Indian captain Saurav Ganguly fended Kallis to gully where Gary Kirsten dived forward to hold the ball. Ganguly was given out after a referral to television umpire Ian Howell. Tendulkar took 15 minutes to score his first run but with his side in trouble he went on the attack and seized the initiative from South Africa. India suffered two blows before play started. Off spinner Harbhajan Singh was ruled out by a groin infection. Wicket-keeper Sameer Dighe strained a back muscle during the pre-match warm-up and was replaced by new cap Deep Dasgupta. The pitch, normally a batsmen's paradise, had more grass than usual and Pollock gained plenty of movement in the early overs. Laxman looked in superb form, hitting the ball crisply off the back foot and hooking a six off Pollock as he hurried to 32 off 30 balls. But he hooked at a loose delivery from Hayward and the ball brushed his glove and was well held by a diving Boucher.
| Copyright AFP 2001 |