Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Sehwag has `best innings'

SHOW NO FEAR The speed of Australia's Brett Lee was not enough to shake the Indian opener, whose 195 runs helped his team to a commanding 329 for four on day one

AP , MELBOURNE

Indian opener Virender Sehwag, left, looks back to see Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist attempt to stump him on the first day of the third test match at the MCG in Melbourne yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Opener Virender Sehwag scored 195 runs yesterday to set up India for a big first-innings total in the third cricket test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

India was 329 for four at stumps with skipper Sourav Ganguly and Venkatsai Laxman unbeaten on 20 and six runs respectively. India won the toss and decided to bat.

Sehwag shared two century stands with Akash Chopra (48) and Rahul Dravid (49) as the Indians boldly went after the home attack spearheaded by returning fast bowler Brett Lee.

"This is my best innings," said Sehwag, 25. "I played my natural game and went after the loose bowling. If the ball was there to be hit, I did it.

"I am not disappointed with the way I got out. It was a full toss, and if it went for six or whether I got out, it doesn't matter."

Sehwag claimed India was in a good position, but will need a good contribution from the overnight pair to get on top in the test.

India's day was soured by the first-ball dismissal of star batsman Sachin Tendulkar for a duck -- his second in four innings in the series.

Australia briefly had the initiative when it took three wickets for 33 runs in six overs. India was 278 for one at one stage.

It is the highest first-day score in 95 tests here, and the first time the opposition has scored 300 runs on the first day in the 55 tests Steve Waugh has captained.

Sehwag showed scant respect to Lee and the rest of the bowlers and punished the home side for dropping him twice on 66 and 73 in the space of two overs.

Responding to the challenge of facing Lee, one of the fastest bowlers in the world, Sehwag overcame a nervous start before settling down to post his career-best innings in his 19th test.

Sehwag treated the 62,613 first-day crowd with five towering sixes and 25 fours. He batted for 12 minutes over five hours and faced 233 balls.

He hit leftarm wrist spinner Simon Katich over mid-wicket for six, and trying to repeat the shot off the next ball -- a full toss -- Sehwag holed out to Nathan Bracken, who ran around the long-on boundary to take a good catch.

Sehwag's six off Waugh -- a straight drive over the bowler's head -- stood out as the shot of the day. But some of his boundaries left the fielders motionless as he continuously penetrated the ring of fielders.

Sehwag refused to be intimidated by Lee, who hit him twice on the helmet in the first spell as he topped 150.7kph.

Australia lost an opportunity after Sehwag survived a runout in the painstaking first hour's play when India trudged to 24 runs in 13 overs.

Waugh, bowling after running out of options against the threatening second-wicket stand of Sehwag and Dravid, had the latter caught brilliantly by Damien Martyn to end the 137-run alliance.

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