Sehwag's blaze brings India back in game

Updated: 15 December 2008 14:51 IST

Chasing a winnings target of 387 runs, Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir took India's score to 131/1 at the close of fourth day's play.

New Delhi:

What looked like to be a mammoth total to chase in the fourth innings, Indian opener Virender Sehwag fired all cylinders to mellow down the pressure and along with Gautam Gambhir added 117 runs for the first wicket. With the help of his blazing 83 runs and Gambhir's unbeaten 41 runs, India finished the fourth day of the Chennai Test with 131 runs on the board at the loss of one wicket, in reply to England's 387 runs. They need another 256 runs to win.

Sehwag batted the way only he can and hit English bowlers all over the ground. England spinner Graeme Swann finally struck to break the crucial partnership between the openers and sent the 'Delhi Demolisher' back in the pavilion. Sehwag slammed a blazing half-century which was his 18th Test fifty and fourth against England.

With the dismissal of Matt Prior, England declared their innings for 311 runs at the loss of nine wickets and set India a target of 387 runs. Though Sehwag's knock released the pressure, things still do not look in complete favour of India, if statistics are to believed. The highest score ever chased by India in Chennai is 155/8 against Australia in 2001. However, the highest score chased in the fourth innings to win a match in India is 276, by West Indies in Delhi in 1987. However, the score is attainable if India save wickets and play with patience.

Earlier in the day, Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood resumed batting on Sunday morning with their overnight lead of 247 runs and extended their lead with a 214-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Indian bowlers went wicketless in the first session. Making a much required comeback in the second session, India picked five wickets with Harbhajan Singh providing the first breakthrough as, he dismissed England opener Andrew Strauss for 108 runs. Strauss fell immediately after Paul Collingwood raised his hundred. Strauss went for a frontfoot drive but could not control it completely and hit it straight to VVS Laxman at short extra cover.

Strauss, who scored 123 in the first innings, got another hundred in the second innings. With this hundred, Strauss became the second Englishman after Graham Gooch to post a hundred in each innings of a Test match against India. Gooch had made 333 & 123 in the 1990 Lord's Test. This was Strauss's 14th Test hundred, his third against India.

Next to go was another Andrew - Flintoff as the fifth English wicket. He scored just four runs before edging an Ishant Sharma-delivery that swung away to wicketkeeper MS Dhoni.

India's pace spearhead Zaheer then returned for his task and burst with three wickets. Khan got rid of Paul Collingwood for 108 runs. Former English captain Collingwood played a gritty knock and had an invaluable partnership of 214 runs for the fourth wicket with Strauss. He completed seventh Test hundred which was his second against the hosts. He was caught plumb in front of the wicket by Zaheer and walked out of the ground as the sixth batsman.

Graeme Swann was done by Zaheer's swing that pitched in line and invited him for a drive. The ball came in sharply and took the leg-stump along. Next man Steve Harmison too was done by his swing. This time pitching on the middle and leg, the ball straightened to crash into the middle stump.

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who struck an unbeaten 53 in the first innings, chipped in with 33 runs lower in the order. Sehwag caught him off Ishant Sharma off Ishant to complete his 50 catches in Test.

Also read:

Match report: 1st Test, Day 1

Match report: 1st Test, Day 2

Match report: 1st Test, Day 3

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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