Sehwag, Gambhir give India a strong start (Tea report)

Ahmedabad, Nov 19 ( Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gave a good start as India made 77 for no loss in the second innings at tea after Sri Lanka declared their first innings at 760 for seven on the fourth day of the first cricket Test here Thursday.

Sehwag was batting on 47 and Gambhir on 28 as India went into the tea break still trailing Sri Lanka by 257 runs. Sehwag and Gambhir were in command and hit the fast bowlers with ease as 77 runs came up in just 16 overs at Motera’s Sardar Patel Stadium.

Earlier, a record 385-run sixth wicket stand between Mahela Jayawardene (275) and Prasanna Jayawardene (154 not out) took Sri Lanka to a commanding 760 for seven in reply to India’s 426 in the first innings.

It was the highest ever score for any team in India that kept Sri Lanka in hunt for their maiden win on Indian soil. Sri Lanka’s total surpassed India’s 676 for seven against the visitors in Kanpur in 1986.

The 385-run partnership between Mahela and Prasanna was also a record sixth-wicket partnership. They surpassed the 346-run stand between Jack Fingleton and Don Bradman at Melbourne in January 1937.

Resuming at the overnight score of 519 for five, the two Sri Lanka batsmen hardly gave any chance and piled the agony on India bowlers.

Both Mahela and Prasanna drove and cut the fast bowlers for fours with ease as runs flowed quickly. The introduction of spinners didn’t slow down the proceedings as off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and leggie Amit Mishra failed to trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen.

Mahela got to his 250 before lunch and also crossed the 9,000-run mark in Tests. By the lunch break, Sri Lanka opened up a lead of 282 runs but Mahela departed just after the break in his attempt to step up the run rate.