Mohali: India's makeshift opener Deep Dasgupta hit exactly 100 and RahulDravid made an unbeaten 78 to expose England's inexperienced attack inthe first Test in Mohali on Tuesday.The pair put on 136 for the third wicket as India batted in fits andstarts before closing the second day's play on 262 for three in reply toEngland's modest 238.India, which lead by 24 runs with seven wickets in hand, are well-placed to built a huge first innings score that may not require them to bat asecond time in the match.
In an ominous warning to the tourists, master batsman Sachin Tendulkarlooked solid on 31 not out after surpassing 1,000 runs against Englandin only his 10th Test against it.Dasgupta, playing his third match, hit 15 boundaries in his maiden Testcentury before was bowled by Craig White soon after reaching themilestone.
The 23-year-old wicket-keeper, opening the batting in Mohali onlybecause Sanjay Bangar had strained a leg muscle, stonewalled his way atthe crease for five hours and 38 minutes.Dasgupta, who plays for the same Bengal state as his captain SauravGanguly, was also used as a temporary opener on the recent tour of South Africa.
England paid dearly for a missed catch by Mark Butcher, who dropped Dasgupta at first slip off Richard Dawson when the batsman was on 75.Dravid, looking to strike form on familiar pitches after struggling against pace in South Africa, settled in to strike 11 hits to the fence.With the wicket easing up, neither the seamers nor the slow bowlers wer eable to extract the same bite that fetched Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh five wickets on Monday.White, however, kept the brakes on the Indians with one for 35 from 15 steady overs.
The Indians scored at a brisk pace in the post-tea session after putting the spectators to sleep in the first two sessions in which they managed just 126 runs.The hosts, who made just 55 runs from 30 overs before lunch, added 36more in the first hour after the break.Television pictures showed bored spectators dozing in the mild afternoon sun as neither the batsmen nor bowlers made an impression.
The runs dried up after Dravid was missed down the leg-side by wicket-keeper James Foster off Andrew Flintoff.The foundation for a big Indian score was laid earlier by the unlikely combination of a makeshift opener and nightwatchman.
Dasgupta and AnilKumble frustrated England by batting through most of the morning session as India went from their overnight 24 for one to 79 for one by lunch.Kumble, who came in as nightwatchman on Monday evening after the fall of Shiv Das, occupied the crease for 112 minutes before falling against the run of play 15 minutes before lunch.Kumble, who hit six boundaries, attempted to cut a seventh off Dawson and edged a catch to the wicket-keeper. Dawson's jubilation at gaining his first Test wicket was understandable as five bowlers before him had toiled in vain to break the 43-run stand.