Sehwag sizzles on rain-curtailed day
India 145 for 0 (Sehwag 96*, Dravid 37*) trail
Pakistan 679 for 7 dec by 534 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Gloomy skies allowed just 15 overs to be bowled as India, led by Virender Sehwag's derring-do, got one step closer to drawing the first Test at Lahore. A morning drizzle, allied with hazy conditions, had delayed the start of play and, despite the floodlights, gradually dimming light forced the umpires to call an early lunch. Only three overs were possible after the break, with play finally being called off at 3:20pm local time.
It was left to Sehwag to provide the sparkle, leading a blistering riposte to Pakistan's mountain of a total. Carving the short balls through the off side, Sehwag dismissed the pacy offerings that Shoaib Akhtar and Co. handed out in the 15 overs possible and piloted India to 145 for no loss. The frenetic run-rate that Pakistan maintained was stunningly matched, with only five overs passing without a boundary being scored. Rahul Dravid, expectedly more circumspect, imparted a calming influence at the other end as India's chances of staving off defeat gained quite a fillip.
With only a smattering of spectators turning up at the Gaddafi Stadium, Sehwag reeled off boundary after boundary, with large doses of nonchalance. Peppered with short deliveries, he adopted his usual stand-and-whack approach, carving over the slips, slapping past point and thumping drives fizzing through the covers. The fourth ball of the day was flicked, past a short midwicket that was placed just before the delivery, and he was chiefly responsible for 28 coming off the first four overs.
He was occasionally troubled by Shoaib's thundering bouncers on his ribs, with a backward square leg specifically stationed for the uppish prod, but anything on the off side was countered with a mighty flash. Sometimes he missed, sometimes he edged, but most went off the middle as he bulldozed his way to 60 off 54 balls today. In the brief three-over session after lunch - when he bizarrely faced the first ball despite facing the last ball before the break - he scorched Mohammad Sami through the covers, whipped him to square leg before drilling him, the most stunning of drills while on his knees, past point. It appeared as though only the light could stop him.
Dravid was the sponge to Sehwag's sword. He tucked two successive fours of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan early in the piece, but the assurance with which he left the ball was equally masterful. Fine knocks are usually remembered for the boundaries they contain, but Dravid made sure that the dot balls, when he displayed superb judgement to shoulder arms or sway away, weren't forgotten as well.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo