Sehwag gives India dynamite start

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Published: Saturday, December 18, 2010, 18:56 [IST]
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Sehwag gives India dynamite start

Thanks to a flurry of trademark cover drives, cuts and pulls from Virender Sehwag, and steady support from Gautam Gambhir, India raced to 92/0 in 17 overs at tea on Day 3 of the first Test. The visitors now trail South Africa by 392 runs and are looking good in their second innings, although it's early days yet.

After South Africa declared at 620/4, India had its task cut out. The visitors had to bat themselves out of trouble and so Sehwag and Gambhir got down to business in right earnest. After two near run-outs and some initial jitters, the batsmen settled in quickly and began scoring at a brisk rate.

In the 8th over, Sehwag came down heavily on Tsotsobe, hitting him for a six and a four. India raced to 50 in 9 overs. In the next over, Sehwag came in for a reprieve when Hashim Amla was unable to latch on to a tough chance at cover off Tsotsobe's bowling. In the 12th over, Sehwag again went after the same bowler, hitting him for two consecutive boundaries to move onto 42.

In the 15th over, Sehwag bludgeoned Morkel for another boundary to bring up his fifty, taking just 46 balls en route. A couple of overs later, Gambhir got into the act, smashing first-change bowler Paul Harris for two fours and running a double off him as well. India went into tea at a confident 92/0 after 17 overs.

Earlier in the day, South Africa came out to bat after lunch for one final surge. Kallis, unbeaten on 182 and de Villiers batting on 119, began the session with apparent aggression. The duo took their side to over 600 in the 127th over. Soon afterward, Kallis brought up his maiden double-ton with a leg-glance for four off Jaidev Unadkat. The innings had come off 267 balls and was studded with 15 fours and 5 sixes. But in the very next over, his partner de Villiers was caught behind off Sharma for 129. South Africa immediately declared their innings at the gigantic score of 620/4 with a lead of 484.

Resuming their innings at 366/2 on the morning of Day 3, hosts South Africa has everything going for them - a lead of 230, 8 wickets in hands, a pitch that had flattened out and a beleaguered bowling attack.

Hashim Amla, on an overnight score of 116 and Jacques Kallis, batting on 102, picked up their dominance with Amla hitting a four in the first over of the day. Amla tucked into Sreesanth in the 91st over, when he hit him for two consecutive boundaries - one to deep square leg and the other, through the covers.

But India got a breather in the next over when Ishant Sharma had Amla caught behind for 140. The batsman had struck 14 fours and 1 six in his mammoth innings as South Africa were still in a comfortable position at 396/2. With new batsman A B de Villiers joining Kallis, the two decided to up the tempo of their scoring.

In the 99th over, de Villiers smacked Sharma for two consecutive fours, one in front of cover and one, past mid-off. Kallis complemented de Villiers' onslaught when in the next over, he attacked Jaidev Unadkat by striking him for two more boundaries.

Harbhajan Singh came back intro the attack soon after the 100th over, but almost immediately was lofted by de Villiers for a massive six over square leg. The batsman picked up one four each in the next two overs to take South Afica past 450 with the lead at a staggering 324. de Villiers notched up 50 very quick runs in the 105th over with the Proteas score at 471/3. In the 110th over, the batsman lofted Raina for a six to deep midwicket to take the score past 500, and then four over later picked a six and four off the same hapless bowler.

But Raina's worst over was yet to come. In the 115th over, de Villiers cut loose again, bludgeoning Raina for three sixes and South Africa had crossed the 550 mark in the process. De Villiers had also brought up his century off just 77 balls. The batting pair played out the last few overs of the session to take their side to lunch at 591/3 in 123 overs .


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