Ahmedabad, Nov 15: Virender Sehwag's 23rd Test century had pushed India towards a big total but England fought back through Graeme Swann who took four wickets. But, at the end of the opening day's play in the first Test at Sardar Patel Stadium, India were in a strong position at 323/4 in 90 overs.
India could have had more runs if not for offspinner Swann's fine bowling. He was the only successful bowler for the visitors as the rest of his colleagues toiled hard. The pace trio of James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad had very little offering from the dry pitch which has already showed signs of turn which was well utilised by Swann.
The highlight of Thursday's play was Sehwag's ton. Equally impressive to the Delhi batsman's knock was young Cheteshwar Pujara's unbeaten 98. Pujara played some delightful strokes and is in sight of his second Test ton. Pujara ended the day's play with a four off James Anderson.
England's catching let them down. Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli enjoyed reprieves.
India started off with 120/0 (28 overs) in the first session and then moved to 250/3, adding 130 runs for three (30 overs) between lunch and tea. However, the scoring rate dropped in the final session where they scored 73/1 in 32 overs.
Tea Report: India 250/3
Sehwag struck his first Test century in more than two years to lead India's strong start to the Test series against England on first day of Ahmedabad Test. At tea, India were 250/3 in 58 overs.
Sehwag got to his 23rd Test ton off 90 balls and his hundred drought ended after 30 innings. His previous Test three-figure mark was at this very venue against New Zealand in November 2010.
The Delhi right-hander was in superb touch right through his knock. He was finally dismissed bowled by Graeme Swann while attempting a sweep shot. With this scalp, Swann became England's most successful offspinner with 194 wickets going past Jim Laker (193).
Swann soon added the prized scalp of Sachin Tendulkar for 13. Swann took all three wickets to fall so far.
Cheteshwar Pujara was in fine form, bringing up his second Test half century.
Lunch Report: India 120/0
Sehwag's aggressive half century and his century stand with Gautam Gambhir helped India dominate the opening session against England in first Test here on Thursday. At lunch India were in 120/0 in 28 overs. Sehwag was 79 not out (66 balls, 12x4, 1x6) and Gambhir batting on 37 (103 balls, 3x4).
Sehwag struck his 33rd Test half century off 45 balls in his 99th Test. The right-hander from Delhi was in his usual attacking mood in the first two hours of play. Gambhir, however, was content to rotate the strike.
It was a session where the visitors had very little to enjoy. Captain Alastair Cook used all his specialist bowlers but could not separate the pair.
England fast bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan had very little assistance from the pitch, which is slow. Spinners Graeme Swann and Samit Patel too proved ineffective.
India captain MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat first against England in the first Test here at Sardar Patel Stadium on Thursday.
Yuvraj Singh returned to Test side after more than a year. However, there was no place for Harbhajan Singh. India are playing the same two spinners R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha who have been excellent in Tests at home. Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav are the two pacemen.
Sachin Tendulkar, today, completes 23 years of international cricket. He made his debut on this very day, November 15, in 1989 against Pakistan in Karachi.
England handed a Test debut to Nick Compton while Kevin Pietersen too returned to the Test side. Paceman Steven Finn has not fully recovered from injury and missed out.
India: MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar,Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Samit Patel, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Tim Bresnan.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Tony Hill (New Zealand)
Third umpire: Sudhir Asnani (India)
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka)