Sehwag and Gambhir punish England early

Virender Sehwag raced to an unbeaten 79 by lunch

Virender Sehwag raced to an unbeaten 79 by lunch

First published in National Sport © by

England immediately discovered the accuracy of predictions about the hard slog in India as Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir raced to a century opening stand at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

Sehwag (79no) in particular wasted no time on the first morning of this four-Test series, grasping an ominous initiative after MS Dhoni had won an important toss to reach 120 without loss at lunch.

On an especially slow pitch, expected to increasingly favour spin, Sehwag made a nonsense of his last experience against England - two golden ducks at Edgbaston in India's 4-0 defeat last year.

As if to encapsulate the difference 4,000 miles can make, back on home ground he seized mercilessly on any off-side width as India piled on the runs on a productive morning for the hosts.

The first hour gave England precious little encouragement; the second surely a chastening sense of their undertaking as new captain Alastair Cook, 27, tries to lead his country to a first series win in India since the winter he was born.

Gambhir twice inside-edged James Anderson, the second time for a fortunate first four of the innings past wicketkeeper Matt Prior, and Sehwag played and missed once at each new-ball bowler.

Otherwise, on a pitch of notably low bounce already, the openers were quickly in cruise control - before Sehwag upped the ante.

The 50 stand came up in only the 12th over, and Graeme Swann was into the attack for the 14th; by the first ball of the 20th, thanks mainly to Sehwag, India were into three figures. There were eight boundaries, almost exclusively through the off-side as Sehwag angled the ball into and through gaps, in his 45-ball 50.

Tim Bresnan, on for Anderson after eight overs, was then dispatched for 4-4-6 in successive balls - past cover, wide of mid-on and back over his head - forcing Cook into another change, Stuart Broad returning at the media end, only to be replaced himself before lunch by Samit Patel's left-arm spin.

Whatever strings the captain pulled, though, England ended the first session without even a sniff of a wicket.

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