sport

Sehwag puts England on back foot

India's Virender Sehwag put England on the back foot with a destructive century on day one of the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

Sehwag (117) dominated a century opening stand with Gautam Gambhir, and was then joined by Cheteshwar Pujara (68no) for another partnership of 90 in India's teatime 250 for three.

Even with Graeme Swann already responsible for all those wickets, and therefore up to 195 and two past the great Jim Laker as the most successful off-spinner in England's long history, there was little cheer for the tourists after losing the toss on a pitch likely to increasingly favour spin.

Sehwag wasted no time, on the first morning of this four-Test series, in grasping an ominous initiative.

On an especially slow surface, 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 and angled runs expertly into gaps in a run-a-ball innings which sent out an Indian statement of intent for the series.

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

The India openers were quickly in cruise control, before Sehwag upped the ante - and by the first ball of the 20th over, thanks mainly to Sehwag, the total was in three figures.

Sehwag dispatched Tim Bresnan, on for James Anderson after eight overs, for 4-4-6 in successive balls - past cover, wide of mid-on and back over his head - forcing Cook into more changes.

Early afternoon brought three let-offs for India, two of them costly.

Matt Prior dropped Sehwag on 80, down the leg-side off Anderson, and in the next over missed a stumping chance when Gambhir over-balanced against Swann.

The left-handed opener did not add to his score before Swann (3 for 60) got one to skid on and bowl him on the back foot to end a stand of 134.

But Sehwag soon reached three figures, with a 15th four lofted over mid-on off Swann to go with his six, his first hundred for almost exactly two years - against New Zealand on this same ground.

Pujara was not dropped but nonetheless had fortune, and an England slip, on his side on eight when Anderson over-committed himself at mid-on and could not then reach a leading edge off Bresnan.

The number three, who had given England a preview of his capabilities with an innings of 87 against them for Mumbai A two weeks ago, is not prone to making a second mistake on the same day.

So it was that he soon had a look of risk-free permanence, on his way to a 67-ball half-century.

By the time Sehwag missed a sweep at Swann, and was bowled, England had five men on the boundary to the India opener.

His departure brought Sachin Tendulkar to the crease, to the obligatory delight of the crowd.

But the veteran master batsman did not last long, holing out in the leg-side deep off Swann, and it was Pujara who was beginning to threaten England most.