Record opening stand puts India on top, 278 for 2
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2002, 23:39 [IST]
Scintillating ton by Sehwag, India 175/0 at tea
Upbeat Indian team takes on depleted West Indies
Mumbai: Virender Sehwag celebrated his birthday 11 days early with a career-best 147 as India posted an impressive 278 for two in the first Test against the West Indies on Wednesday. Sehwag, who turns 24 on October 20, put his team on course for a big total with a record 201-run stand with fellow-opener Sanjay Bangar (55) on the opening day at the Wankhede Stadium. Batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar was unbeaten on 35 and Rahul Dravid on 28 at stumps, looking set to prolong the West Indies' agony on Thursday. Tendulkar also completed 1,000 runs in a calendar year when on 14. The day belonged to Sehwag, an aggressive batsman with plenty of shots and confidence. He smashed three sixes and 24 fours in his third hundred in 10 Tests to surpass his previous best of 106 against England at Trent Bridge in August. His partnership with Bangar was India's highest for the opening wicket against the West Indies, eclipsing the previous best of 153 between Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan at the same venue in 1978-79. It was an ordeal in the sun for Carl Hooper's West Indians, who toiled for more than two sessions in hot and humid conditions for their first success. Hooper, playing his 100th Test, used nine bowlers in short spells but none could provide the breakthrough for more than four hours on a newly laid pitch. India lost its first wicket in the fifth over after the tea break after winning an important toss, but not before Sehwag and Bangar had put their team in a commanding position with contrasting knocks. Fast bowler Mervyn Dillon succeeded in breaking the partnership in his third spell when he had Bangar caught flicking by Ramnaresh Sarwan at square-leg. Bangar offered a chance on 53 when he mistimed a lofted shot off spinner Hooper, but Cameron Cuffy failed to judge the ball while running in from mid-off. Bangar, who turns 30 on Friday, defended resolutely during his 187-ball knock to frustrate the West Indies attack. He played just one big shot in his long innings, lifting spinner Ryan Hinds for a straight six. Dillon also ended Sehwag's entertaining 217-ball knock three overs later as he had the batsman caught by wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs, who dived to his left to bring off a low catch. Dillon deserved his successes, as he looked impressive in each of his three short spells. He grabbed both of his wickets in his six-over third spell, conceding just 12 runs. The pitch had neither pace nor bounce for fast bowlers even on the first day and the Indian openers made the most of the conditions to give their team a dream start. Sehwag delighted nearly 15,000 spectators as he never allowed the West Indians bowlers to dominate with his wide range of attacking shots. He completed his half- century off 85 balls in the last over before lunch when he square-drove left-arm fast bowler Pedro Collins for his 11th boundary. Sehwag took 53 deliveries more to complete his hundred, lofting part-time seamer Wavell Hinds over mid-wicket for his 19th four. He played handsome shots against both seamers and spinners, starting with two successive boundaries in Collins's opening over. He then took two fours off Cuffy and three in an over off leg spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo, who hardly turned the ball. He struck the first six of the match, hoisting birthday boy Nagamootoo over long-off. Tendulkar and Dravid pressed home the advantage given by Sehwag, having so far added 65 for the unbroken third wicket.