World record beckons Sehwag and Dravid after mauling Pakistan
by AFP

Ground:Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Scorecard:Pakistan v India
Player:V Sehwag, RS Dravid
Event:India in Pakistan 2005/06

DateLine: 16th January 2006


Virender Sehwag hit 247 not out and Rahul Dravid remained unbeaten on 128 as India blunted Pakistan's attack in the weather-hit first cricket Test here on Monday.


The pair were 11 runs away from setting a new world record for the first wicket after closing the fourth day's play on 403 without loss in reply to Pakistan's mammoth 679-7 declared.


The Test, played on a slow wicket that has proved to be a bowlers' graveyard, is almost certain to end in a draw on Tuesday after murky weather curtailed play for the second consecutive day.


Only 47 overs were bowled on Monday, a marginal improvement on the 15 that were possible on Sunday as a thick blanket of fog and cloud hung over the eastern Pakistani city.


Sehwag and Dravid mauled the Pakistani pace attack led by Shoaib Akhtar and were equally destructive against the spin of Danish Kaneria and Shahid Afridi.


The pair are now three boundary shots away from surpassing the world record of 413 for the first wicket by fellow-countrymen Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy against New Zealand in Madras in 1956.


Dravid, when told about the record, said: "Thanks for putting us under pressure!"


"I think it was great to come back in the face of Pakistan's big score," the Indian captain said. "It was not much fun for the bowlers out there but the runs had to be made.


"It's just awesome the way Sehwag bats. I was on 30 when he got to his century. He makes the other batsman look foolish at times."


Vice-captain Sehwag played down his own effort, saying flat wickets like the one here were not good for Test cricket.


"I think Pakistan purposely made such a wicket because they had lost the series when we toured two years ago and they were on the defensive this time," he said.


"We took seven Pakistani wickets but they have not taken any so far. Our total has conveyed the message that we are not here to lose."


Sehwag, who hit India's first triple-century (309) on the 2004 tour of Pakistan, once again dominated the rival attack with a typically boisterous innings.


His 240-ball knock has so far contained 46 boundaries and a lone six off Kaneria.


It was the Delhi batsman's second double-century against Pakistan in as many matches, having made 201 in the third Test at Bangalore in March last year.


Dravid, who opted to open the innings ahead of his predecessor Sourav Ganguly, stood rock-solid at the other end with his 21st Test century.


The partnership between Sehwag and Dravid was India's highest against Pakistan, surpassing the 336 by Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar for the third wicket at Multan in 2004.


Sehwag, who was on 96 overnight, hit a boundary off leg-spinner Kaneria to reach his 11th century off 93 balls -- the fastest by an Indian opener, surpassing Sunil Gavaskar's 94-ball effort against the West Indies in New Delhi in 1983.


Mohammad Azharuddin and Kapil Dev jointly hold the Indian record for the fastest century in any position -- off 74 balls.


Sehwag reached 199 with four consecutive boundaries off Rana Naved and then jabbed the fifth delivery to third man where Shoaib Malik narrowly missed taking the catch and allowed the batsman to take a single.


Dravid chose to play second fiddle to Sehwag, but 19 superb hits to the fence indicated he is in good form for the rest of the tour.


The second Test will be played in Faisalabad from January 21-25 and the third in Karachi from January 29-February 2.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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