India off to a steady start against Australia

Published: Friday, October 17, 2008, 13:13 [IST]
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Opener Gautan Gambhir hit an unbeaten 53 as India reached a healthy 104-1 by lunch on the opening day of the second Test here on Friday.

The left-handed Gambhir, 27, hit eight fours in his 88-ball knock to make the most of a good batting wicket at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium.

Former India captain Rahul Dravid was batting on 11 with two fours at the break with Gambhir, who also featured in an entertaining 70-run stand off 86 balls with Virender Sehwag (35).

Sehwag and Gambhir belted a wayward Australian attack after Mahendra Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat in the absence of injured regular captain Anil Kumble.

Kumble, who turned 38 on Friday, pulled out of the Test on the morning of the match after failing to recover from a shoulder injury that he picked during the drawn Bangalore opener.

The explosive Sehwag, who hit debutant fast bowler Peter Siddle for two fours in an over, appeared in top form during his quickfire knock, which came off 36 balls.

Gambhir joined in the run-fest, driving an off-colour Brett Lee (0-36) for three boundaries and forcing Australian captain Ricky Ponting to make early bowling changes.

Ponting's efforts finally paid off when paceman Mitchell Johnson removed the dangerous Sehwag, who was caught by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Australia awarded a Test cap to Siddle after paceman Stuart Clark was ruled unfit for the match.

India went into the game with two seamers in Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, and two spinners in Harbhajan Singh and debutant Amit Mishra.

Leg-spinner Mishra, 25, featured in three one-day internationals for India way back in 2003.

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