Friday 28 March 2008 

Sehwag Triple Century Leads Indian Fightback


South Africa 540 (Amla 159, McKenzie 94, Harbhajan Singh 5-126) v
India 468-1 (Sehwag 309no, Jaffer 73, Dravid 65no) in Chennai

By Aaron Kumar

Virender Sehwag followed in the footsteps of Sir Don Bradman and Brian Lara, becoming the third man to register two Test triple centuries as India fought back in fine style on day three of the first Test against South Africa in Chennai.

He closed level on his previous career-best of 309 not out with India back in the match at 468 for one and Rahul Dravid was unbeaten on 65. Sehwag scored 257 runs in the day with India adding 386 for the loss of just one wicket.

Sehwag began as he left off last night, and indeed India were scoring at close to a run a ball for the first 45 minutes of the days play. He was given excellent support by Wasim Jaffer as the Indians reached 176 for no loss at lunch.

India's brilliant stroke play forced the South Africans onto the back foot, as spinner Paul Harris resorted to bowling outside leg stump in order to simply contain the Indian batsmen.

India continued to play positively after, lunch and Sehwag brought up the Indian 200 with a glorious cover drive off the bowling of Dale Steyn.

Sehwag and Jaffer were scoring freely and taking the game away from the South Africans. However, when Paul Harris did decide to bowl over the wicket he was able to find the outside edge of Jaffer, who edged to Jacques Kallis. Jaffer fell for 73 and his wicket ended a superb stand of 213 with Sehwag for the first wicket.

Rahul Dravid replaced Jaffer, and was very subdued when he first came to the crease. There were no such worries for Sehwag, who hit a glorious boundary off of Morkel to bring up his 150, his second consecutive score of over 150.

Another glorious straight drive down the ground off the bowling of Makhaya Ntini took Sehwag to 173 not out, the highest individual score by an Indian against South Africa.

On reaching his 150, Sehwag appeared to put his foot on the accelerator, as he hit three boundaries off a Morne Morkel over and soon after four consecutive boundaries off the bowling off Harris, as he moved into the 190s at a strike rate of better than a run a ball.

Sehwag hit a huge six off the bowling of Ntini to take him onto 199, he followed that up with a glorious flick through mid wicket for three runs to bring up his 200 from just 194 balls, it was Sehwag's fourth Test match double century.

India went to tea with their score 309 for one, 16 runs were taken from the last over before tea, Sehwag (218 not out) had scored 108 runs off his own bat off just 65 balls between lunch and tea in what really was a breath taking display of uninhibited stroke play.

He moved swiftly past 250 after tea and broke his own record of the highest Test score (254) with a strike rate of over 100 before India passed 400 having comfortably avoided having to follow on.

The next record he broke was to overtake VVS Laxman's record of 281 as the highest score by an Indian in India, which also means he holds the top two scores made by Indian players.

Dravid moved closer to 10,000 Test run as he completed his 52nd half-century having barely played a shot in anger; in many ways the perfect foil for Sehwag at the other end.

He moved from 291 to 297 with a huge six off of Harris, and the 300 was brought up with a flick behind square on the onside in the next over off of Ntini. Closing on 309, he had recorded the fastest triple century in Tests by scoring 45 fours and five sixes.

"I have no words to describe this knock," Sehwag said. "This innings is even better than the one in Multan.

"I had to prove myself that I belong at this level."

South African coach Mickey Arthur paid tribute to Sehwag's effort:

�This was probably the greatest innings I have ever seen,� he said.

�We tried everything we knew to get him out�we attacked him, we defended against him, we changed our lines and length but he had the answer to everything on the day. He is capable of hitting the ball into unorthodox areas on the field which makes it very difficult to set a good field for him.

�When I went through all the various scenarios for today�s play on Thursday night, the one thing I did not anticipate was that they would get past 400 runs so quickly. There is still a lot of time left in the match but we need to slow the game down at the moment. Viri has taken it forward very quickly.�

Dravid, meanwhile, featured in a record 72nd century partnership in Tests as India registered more than 200 for their first two wickets for the first time.

India are replying to South Africa's first innings score of 540, in which Hashim Amla top scored with 159.

� Cricket World 2008

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