India takes day one honours courtesy Gambhir, Dravid (Lead)

December 19th, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Mohali, Dec 19 (IANS) Gautam Gambhir stroked his fourth Test century while Rahul Dravid shrugged off his form slump with a half-century as India ended the first day of the second cricket Test at 179 for one here Friday.Gambhir was batting 106 and Dravid 65 as stumps were drawn after 72 overs due to poor light.

After Virender Sehwag was out in the second over of the morning, Gambhir and Dravid stitched an unbroken 173-run partnership, a record for the second wicket at this ground. They surpassed the 151-run stand between Mark Richardson and Scott Styris of New Zealand in 2003.

The 27-year-old Gambhir carried his impressive form to score his third century in the last four Tests. He hit 12 fours and one six in his 229-ball stay.

Dravid, who had to cop some flak for his bad patch, hit his first fifty in nine innings with seven fours off 205 balls.

England attack looked ineffective as no bowler could pose any difficulty for the batsmen. England used five bowlers, including three pacers but failed to break the partnership.

India elected to bat after winning the toss in overcast conditions but architect of Chennai chase Sehwag fell early. The opener was caught behind off Stuart Broad, who replaced Steve Harmison for this match.

England pacers, particularly Broad, were getting good purchase of the greenish pitch and batting looked difficult. But Gambhir and Dravid were prepared for the grind. They saw off the new ball even as English bowlers pegged away outside the off-stump. Only 15 runs came in the first 45 minutes.

But more importantly for India, their best batsman in such a situation, Dravid, was out in the middle.

Coming out of the shadows of a string of poor scores in the last few matches, a shaky Dravid recovered some of his wall-like qualities as he filled in the role of sheet- anchor.

Gambhir broke the shackles with two fours in the seventh over and played freely as the day wore on. He and Dravid milked singles with ease and never missed out to crack the loose ones the boundary.

The match started late by 20 minutes due to bad light.

Weather forecast is a downpour in tonight and if it pours there will be a question mark over second day’s play.

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