Sehwag, Chopra help India reach 104 at lunch

Published: Friday, April 2, 2004, 19:01 [IST]
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Multan:Virender Sehwag cracked a belligerent unbeaten 76 as India made a solid start reaching 104 for no loss at lunch on the opening day of the first cricket Test against Pakistan in Multan on Sunday.

Sehwag blunted the famed Pakistani bowling attack with some glorious shots to give a rousing start to the visitors, who elected to bat after stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid won the toss.

Sehwag smashed nine boundaries and two sixes during his unbeaten knock which came off 92 balls. His opening partner Aakash Chopra was batting on 25 at the lunch break.

The dashing Sehwag hit the first boundary of the high-profile series when he slammed Mohammad Sami to the mid-wicket fence and then picked up the bowler for some special treatment in the very next over clobbering him for two boundaries.

While Sehwag attacked the bowlers whenever they erred in line and length, Chopra was quite content in playing the sheet anchor's role-playing out the Pakistani new ball bowlers cautiously.

Both the Pakistani striker bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Sami were guilty of not making the batsmen play enough in their opening spells, allowing the openers to settle down on what appeared a good batting track.

The home team captain Inzamam-ul-Haq brought in Shabbir Ahmed from the pavilion end in place of Akhtar but the lanky paceman could do little to break the partnership as Sehwag drove him to the extra cover boundary and then produced a crisp square cut to the point boundary in the very next ball.

The openers scored 46 runs in 15 overs in the first hour but stepped up the pace of scoring after the drinks break with Sehwag doing the bulk of the scoring.

With none of the bowlers being able to make much of an impact, Inzamam introduced his experienced off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, recalled into the Test squad after a long gap, but the wily spinner also failed to trouble the batsmen.

Sehwag hit a stunning six off Shabbir, cutting a lifting ball over third-man and then notched up his half-century by square cutting Shoaib to the point boundary.

His half-century came off just 60 balls and contained nine boundaries and a six. After a tidy first over, Mushtaq got a harsh treatment from Sehwag as the flamboyant batsman slammed him for two consecutive boundaries and rubbed more salt by lifting him over long on for a six.

The sedate Chopra also grew in confidence as the innings progressed and hit a couple of boundaries to help the team maintain a brisk scoring rate. Sehwag had a slice of fortune just a few minutes before the lunch break when he was dropped by Sami at deep mid-wicket with Mushtaq being the unlucky bowler.

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