India fights with its back to wall, 121/2 at tea

Published: Monday, July 29, 2002, 2:33 [IST]
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London: Chasing a near impossible 568, India was fighting with its back to the wall having lost two wickets while reaching 121 at tea on the fourth day of the first cricket Test against England on Sunday.

Openers Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer returned to the pavilion after playing promising but inadequate knocks after England had declared its second innings at 301 for six with both Michael Vaughan and James Crawley cracking centuries. Sehwag and Jaffer gave India a flying start, scoring well above five runs an over but their knocks of 27 and 53 were hardly enough in the mammoth run chase. At the tea break, Rahul Dravid was batting on 34 and Sachin Tendulkar on five.

England, which was 184 for three overnight, scored at a very brisk pace in the morning and declared its innings half an hour before lunch to ensure itself a cushion of more than five sessions to bowl the Indians out. Sehwag and Jaffer began totally unmindful of the improbable task ahead of them and played freely especially in the post lunch session. Both of them hit a flurry of boundaries and at one stage 29 runs came off just two overs.

Sehwag, who was dropped by England captain Nasser Hussain in the slips off Andrew Flintoff, played some delightful shots off the backfoot while Jaffer executed a few elegant cuts and drives. But it was too good a phase to continue for long. Sehwag was late to react to a faster delivery from Simon Jones that uprooted his off-stump when India's total was on 61. Sehwag's batted for over one and half hour for his 27, hitting five fours. Dravid joined Jaffer and another partnership started to build for India.

Jaffer continued with his fine knock while Dravid too was quite positive in his approach. Jaffer completed his third Test half-century with a single but couldn't continue long after that, edging a simple catch to Hussain at first slip off Vaughan. Jaffer hit seven boundaries during his two-hour knock of 53.

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