Sehwag, Gambhir depart after giving India a promising start (Roundup)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

CENTURION - Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir hit half centuries as India made a promising start in the second innings against South Africa and reduced the deficit to 294 at the close of third days play in the first cricket Test here Saturday.

Sehwag (63) and Gambhir (80) added 137 runs for the first wicket and helped India to reach 190 for two in the second innings at stumps. Rahul Dravid was batting on 28 and night-watchman Ishant Sharma seven when poor light stopped play.

This came after South Africa declared their first innings at 620 for four, taking a first innings lead of 484 runs. South Africa drew curtains immediately after lunch with Jacques Kallis (201) stroking his maiden double century.

Kallis, who played 270 balls hitting 15 fours and five sixes, and AB de Villiers (129), who smashed the fastest Test century by a South African, were involved in a dominating 224-run stand for the fourth wicket.

The partnership was broken when De Villiers was caught behind off Ishant Sharma (2-120). De Villiers smashed 12 fours and five sixes in 112 balls. Overnight batsman Hashim Amla (140) was the other wicket to fall in the day in a similar fashion off Sharma.

India, who were looking for a spark of inspiration after being shot out for 136 and the South African batsmen piled the misery, wanted Sehwag to fire and he did not disappoint.

At tea on the third day, India reached 92 for no loss with Sehwag and Gambhir batting at a brisk pace.

Sehwag and Gambhir took some time to see off the new-ball burst of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who ran through the Indian line-up in damp conditions on the rain-curtailed first day.

Seeing that the track had eased out considerably and it does not have any demons, the two openers shifted gears and batted with their naturally attacking flair.

Sehwag raced to 50 in 46 balls and he came down hard on left-arm pacer Lonwobe Tsotsobe. Sehwag was well set for a big knock but gifted his wicket to left-arm spinner Paul Harris, for whom it was his 100th Test wicket, after he came down the track and Graeme Smith took a good catch running back from mid-off. Sehwags 79-ball stay was studded with nine fours and a six.

Gambhir showed no signs of slowing down and was at ease against Tsotsobe and Morkel, hitting the two bowlers through the covers for fours. Disaster struck India, ten minutes before stumps, when Gambhir was trapped leg before the wicket from Steyns delivery that kept low. Gambhir struck 10 fours in his 124-ball innings.

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