sport

Sehwag and Gambhir punish England

India's Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir raced to a century opening stand at the Sardar Patel Stadium againat England on Thursday.

Sehwag (79no) in particular wasted no time on the first morning of this four-Test series, grasping an ominous initiative after Mahendra Singh Dhoni had won an important toss.

On an especially slow pitch, expected to increasingly favour spin, Sehwag made a nonsense of his last experience against England - two golden ducks at Edgbaston in India's 4-0 defeat last year.

As if to encapsulate the difference 4,000 miles can make, back on home ground he seized mercilessly on any off-side width as India piled up a lunchtime 120 without loss.

The first hour gave England precious little encouragement; the second surely a chastening sense of their undertaking as new captain Alastair Cook, 27, tries to lead his country to a first series win in India since the winter he was born.

Gambhir twice inside-edged James Anderson, the second time for a fortunate first four of the innings past wicketkeeper Matt Prior, and Sehwag played and missed once at each new-ball bowler.

Otherwise, on a pitch of notably low bounce already, the openers were quickly in cruise control - before Sehwag upped the ante.

The 50 stand came up in only the 12th over, and Graeme Swann was into the attack for the 14th; by the first ball of the 20th, thanks mainly to Sehwag, India were into three figures.

There were eight boundaries, almost exclusively through the off-side as Sehwag angled the ball into and through gaps, in his 45-ball 50.

Tim Bresnan, on for Anderson after eight overs, was then dispatched for 4-4-6 in successive balls - past cover, wide of mid-on and back over his head - forcing Cook into another change, Stuart Broad returning at the media end, only to be replaced himself before lunch by Samit Patel's left-arm spin.

Whatever strings the captain pulled, though, England ended the first session without even a sniff of a wicket.