Tendulkar, Laxman guide India to 202/3 at tea

November 6th, 2008 - 5:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Nagpur, Nov 6 (IANS) Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman guided India to 202 for three in the first innings against Australia at tea on the first day of the fourth and last Test match at the newly-constructed Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium here Thursday.Tendulkar was on 66 and Laxman 34 at the break, having added 86 runs for the fourth-wicket after Australia’s debutant off-spinner Jason Krejza created some panic by quickly picking up the wickets of Rahul Dravid (0) and Virender Sehwag (66).

The two dismissals reduced India from healthy 98/1 to 116/3 by lunch. Tendulkar and Laxman played out the post-lunch session and they were particularly severe on Krejza, who conceded 88 runs in 15 overs for his two wickets.

If it was Sehwag’s belligerent power-play in the first session, Tendulkar and Laxman batted steadily in the second.

Openers Sehwag (66) and debutant Murali Vijay (33, who came into the side in place of banned Gautam Gambhir, gave India a rollicking start, reeling off 98 runs at over five run an over.

Sehwag looked in fine touch and was harsh on Australia’s pace spearhead Brett Lee, hammering the spedster who conceded 20 runs in four-over first spell.

The 24-year-old Vijay looked composed and compact as he stroked fluently square of the wicket as Sehwag raced to his 16th half-century off just 45 balls.

Shane Watson, who replaced Lee, struck to break the partnership, an awkward short-pitched delivery nicking Vijay’s bat on its way to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Krejza, who continued to toss the ball up despite being spanked for a huge six by Sehwag, struck to dismiss Dravid. The former captain was surprised by the turn and the bounce the off-spinner got so early on day one as he stabbed at a sharp one to be caught at forward short-leg.

Minutes before lunch, Sehwag tried to late cut the off-spinner only to drag the ball on to his stump.

Australia trail 0-1 in the four-match Test series and are in a must-win situation if they have to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by squaring the series. They went in with two spinners with Krejza replacing Stuart Clark, and retaining leg-spinner Cameron White.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first on a virgin track at the brand-new VCA Stadium. Sourav Ganguly is playing his final Test here and Laxman his 100th.

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