Mohali Test: Day 2

Zeecric Bureau

Mohali: Virender Sehwag slammed a quick-fire half-century as India breezed past hundred runs in 21 overs after Zaheer Khan’s five-for restricted Australia to 428. India finished Day 2 at 110/2 with Rahul Dravid on 21 and night-watchman Ishant Sharma on naught.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gave India a fine start as they put on a breezy 81-run opening stand to post a fitting reply to Australia’s first innings total of 428.

From the outset Sehwag looked menacing, took all the Australian bowlers to the cleaners but when he was all set to guide India out of danger Mitchell Johnson induced him into a false shot which went straight to the cover. Sehwag made 59 off just 54 balls with the help of 10 hits to the fence.

Gambhir, however, fell leg before to an in-cutter from Johnson for 25.

Indian pace spearhead Zaheer Khan claimed five wickets to help India bowl Australia out for 428 in the first innings of the first Test between India and Australia at Mohali.

Tim Paine’s resolute innings came to an end as in-form Zaheer Khan removed him by inducing an outside edge to the second slip where Laxman latched on to a brilliant low-catch.

Paine, who proved to be a man who knows the value of his wicket, made 92 off 196 balls, consisting of 12 boundaries.

Tim Paine’s unbeaten 75 helped Australia reach 390/8 at tea in their first innings on Day two of the first Test between Australia and India at Mohali.

Harbhajan Singh joined the wicket-taking party as he sent back Nathan Hauritz for 9.

Zaheer Khan again came to the rescue of India when he removed a dangerous-looking Mitchell Johnson. Johnson, who scored a quick-fire 47, edged an outswinger from Zaheer Khan to wicketkeeper M S Dhoni.

The left-arm paceman, who has all the qualities of a good lower middle-order batsman, took the attack to the Indian bowlers ever since he replaced Watson in the middle.

The southpaw smashed 5 fours and 3 huge during his 66-ball knock which denied India a golden opportunity to run-through the Australian middle-order after the departure of Watson.

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine scored a gritty half-century to lead Australia to a comfortable position. Paine’s patient knock prevented a batting collapse after Watson’s departure.

A dogged 53-run partnership between Shane Watson and wicketkeeper Tim Paine helped Australia reach 295 for six in their first innings at lunch on the second day of the first cricket Test against India at the PCA Stadium here on Saturday.

The two unbeaten batsmen were Paine, who is batting on 36, and Mitchell Johnson (9) after centurion Watson became the only batsman to be dismissed during the session.

The star for Australia on the first day, Watson was dismissed by Harbhajan Singh after scoring 126. His 458-minute vigil ended when Harbhajan got an odd ball to bounce and the batsman didn`t commit fully on the front-foot.

The resultant bat-pad catch was taken by Gautam Gambhir standing at forward short leg. Watson hit 10 boundaries in his 338-ball innings. Having hit eight yesterday, the opener added two more to his tally of boundaries.

The 10th boundary that he hit -- an on-drive off Pragyan Ojha -- helped him reach his personal best Test score of 124 surpassing the previous best of 120 against Pakistan, earlier this season.

Only 71 runs were scored of 29 overs in the first session today. Paceman Ishant Sharma was back on the field after limping off yesterday with a pulled hamstring but since he was out of action for a considerable amount of time, having left the field in the 37th over, he wasn`t allowed to bowl in the first session.

That is precisely the reason why skipper Dhoni didn`t have the option of taking the second new ball which was already due.

The nature of the pitch remained same as it was yesterday with the ball keeping low and the odd-ball skidding through. With lack of bounce and not much turn on offer, it was a tough first session for the Indian bowlers as Watson and Paine blocked everything that came their way.

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With ball being 100 overs old and turning very soft, it wasn`t really difficult to defend. However, they found scoring difficult in the first session.

Normally a free-flowing batsman, Watson`s innings consisted of 51 singles and 13 twos. Paine, who is playing only his third Test, was cautious to begin with but with passage of time played some strokes.

He has already hit five boundaries in his 109-ball innings. Two which stood out during the session were a square cut off Zaheer and another cut shot off Harbhajan – both executed with perfection.

The 53-run sixth wicket partnership came off 161 deliveries. The visitors will be looking forward to a score of 350-plus, which will be considered as a challenging first innings score on a dicey track.

Harbhajan, who got the only wicket of the session, had figures of two for 96 from 40 overs to show for his efforts.

Ojha, who also bowled 40 overs, didn`t get any wickets but gave away only 57 runs. Zaheer, India`s most potent bowler in the match so far, has figures of three for 65 from 22 overs.