Virender Sehwag smashed a quick-fire 83 off 68 balls as India made a spirited start in their chase of a history-defying target in the first Test against England yesterday.
The hosts ended the fourth day’s play at 131 for one in their second innings after being set 387 to win by England captain Kevin Pietersen, a target never achieved before on Indian soil.
England declared their second innings at 311-9 soon after tea, the total revolving around Andrew Strauss’ second century in the match and 108 from Paul Collingwood.
The aggressive Sehwag plundered 11 boundaries and four sixes in a whirlwind opening stand of 117 with Gautam Gambhir, whose own contribution in the partnership was 29.
England broke through six overs before the close when Sehwag was given leg before wicket by umpire Daryl Harper while trying to sweep off-spinner Graeme Swann.
India need a further 256 runs from 90 overs on the final day to take the lead in the two-Test series.
The highest fourth innings total to win a match on Indian soil was 276-5 by the West Indies at New Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla ground during the 1987-1988 season.
Left-handed Strauss, who made 123 in the first innings, scored 108 to become only the second Englishman after Graham Gooch to score two centuries in a Test against India.
The 31-year-old Middlesex opener emulated West Indian Everton Weekes, Duleep Mendis of Sri Lanka and Gary Kirsten of South Africa, the current India coach, in scoring two hundreds in a Test on Indian soil.
Strauss and Collingwood, who came together on Saturday evening with England struggling at 43-3, hammered 214 for the fourth wicket.
Collingwood, who went to lunch on 93, reached his seventh Test century in the sixth over after the resumption when he flicked Harbhajan Singh for a single.
But Strauss fell off the next delivery, uppishly driving the off-spinner to extra cover where Venkatsai Laxman took an easy catch.
India gained another wicket soon after as Andrew Flintoff (4) edged seamer Ishant Sharma to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to leave England 262-5.
N ZEALAND v W INDIES
AFP, DUNEDIN, New Zealand
Defiant West Indies tail-ender Jerome Taylor scored a maiden century on the fourth day of the rain-affected first Test yesterday to swing the advantage away from New Zealand.
The West Indies finished with 340 in reply to New Zealand’s 365 and the home side were 44 for two in their second innings at the close after Daren Powell took two late wickets with consecutive balls.
Taylor finished with a big-hitting 106 in a 173-run partnership with Shivnarine Chanderpaul before being dismissed by New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, who destroyed the rest of the tail to end with six for 56.