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Sehwag's 309 has Proteas drooping
Harish Kotian in Chennai | March 28, 2008 12:05 IST
Last Updated: March 28, 2008 20:15 IST
Virender Sehwag [Images] slammed his second triple century as India piled on the runs on Day 3 of the first Test against South Africa at the M A Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on Friday.
The Delhi opener was unbeaten on a career-best equaling score of 309, off 292 deliveries, including 42 boundaries and five sixes, as India ended the day on a handsome 468 for 1 off 106 overs. In the process, he also became only the third batsman in the history of Test cricket, after the legendary Don Bradman and Brian Lara [Images], to score two triple hundreds.
It is also the fastest triple century in Test cricket, bettering Matthew Hayden's [Images] record off 362 deliveries against Zimbabwe at Perth in 2003-04. In fact, Sehwag is the first Indian batsman to break the 300-run barrier; he went past it when he hit 309 against Pakistan at Multan in 2004.
Rahul Dravid [Images] was unbeaten on 65 off 181 deliveries and involved in an unbroken stand of 255 runs in 53 overs for the second wicket.
Wasim Jaffer [Images] (73) was the lone Indian wicket to fall on the third day. He was out after a 213-run opening wicket with Sehwag.
India trail South Africa's first innings score of 540 by 72 runs.
Morning session: (94 runs, 25 overs)
Resuming on 82 for no loss, India showed their intent as early as the first over when Wasim Jaffer pulled Makhaya Ntini [Images] through the square leg region for a boundary. A couple of deliveries later he was fortunate though, as his edge flew past the slip and gully region when he tried to play a shot through the covers.
Sehwag then thumped Ntini through the off-side in his next over, the 24th of the innings, to signal his presence and the sign of things to come. A double on the leg side off the final ball of the over brought up the 100-run stand in 24 overs.
It was a good start for the day, as the first 45 minutes brought up 52 runs in the first 10 overs as India progressed to 134 for no loss in 34 overs.
Jaffer brought up his 11th Test fifty with a single on the leg side off Paul Harris in the 34th over. He had problems getting the middle of the bat as quite a few edges flew past the slip region.
Harris resorted to a defensive line against Sehwag, bowling on his pads in a bid to restrict his cover drives. However, the dashing batsman, in the 90s, was quite content to play out the singles as he approached his century.
But with Kallis bowling from the other end, Sehwag finally found some room to unleash his strokes. A short of length delivery was dispatched ruthlessly through mid-wicket as he moved to 99. It also brought up the highest opening partnership between Sehwag and Jaffer, surpassing the 159 they put up against the West Indies [Images] at Gros Islet in 2006.
Sehwag brought up his hundred in his own flamboyant style, slamming Jacques Kallis [Images] over the mid-off field. It was his second century in as many matches, coming on the heels of the brilliant 159 he scored in Adelaide in January.
South Africa had no answer and the only way they tried to stop him was by bowling on the pads. Sehwag, meanwhile, was quite content just to pad away the deliveries with lunch break approaching.
At lunch on day three, India were comfortably placed on 176 without loss in 46 overs, having dominated the morning session.
Sehwag was unbeaten on 110, having smashed 16 boundaries and a six in 133 deliveries. Jaffer, on the other hand, scraped his way to 60 from 143 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries and a six.
The Chennai heat combined with India's brilliant batting proved too hot to handle for the South African bowlers. Both Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini had nothing much to offer as Sehwag launched into them with a few cracking shots. Paul Harris did not make an impression either and one is sure that till a wicket falls, he will restrict himself to bowling a negative line.
Post-lunch session: (133 runs, 24 overs, 1 wicket)
Sehwag started the second session with a boundary through fine leg off Kallis. The visitors, it seemed, had given up all hopes of getting him out as they removed all slips and were hoping he would commit a mistake.
In the 51st over, he gave himself room and once again smashed Harris through the cover region. In the next over, he creamed Steyn with ease through the off-side to bring up India's 200. It was the eighth instance of Indian openers putting on 200 runs or more for the first wicket and, amazingly, Sehwag was involved in four of those partnerships.
Not surprisingly, with news of Sehwag taking on the bowlers spreading, the empty seats at the Chepauk rapidly got occupied.
It was Harris who gave South Africa its first success. He got the wicket of Jaffer for 73. The India opener tried to play a drive through the off-side but got an edge which was taken by Kallis at first slip.
Jaffer, who hit six boundaries and a six in his 166-ball knock, added 213 runs for the opening wicket in 53 overs to register the best opening partnership at this venue.
The first wicket slowed down India's progress, as new batsman Rahul Dravid struggled struggling to get a start. He and Sehwag scored a painstaking 14 runs in six overs before the latter broke the shackles with two consecutive boundaries off Morne Morkel.
The first of those boundaries, a cracking drive through the off-side, also brought up his 150 in 171 deliveries. It included 23 fours and a six.
In the same over, Sehwag creamed his third boundary through the covers to move to 159 and register his highest score at the venue. His previous best score was the 155 he made against Australia in 2004-05.
Sehwag crashed Ntini straight down the ground to move to 173 and add another record to his name. He became the highest individual scorer against South Africa, going past Sachin Tendulkar's [Images] 169 at Cape Town in 1996-97.
Such was Sehwag's dominance in the middle that Dravid could score just seven in the 50-run partnership between the two batsmen. Slowly, but steadily, Dravid though got to grips with the pitch, thereby adding to South Africa's task woes.
With tea time fast approaching, Sehwag stepped up the pace to get to a double century before the break. The hapless Harris was a mere spectator as Sehwag unleashed his wide array of strokes to hit three consecutive boundaries and race into the 190s.
He lofted Ntini high into the stands at square leg in the 168th over to race to 199. The crowd rose in unison to salute the dashing opener as he brought up his fourth Test double with a flick to midwicket that fetched him three runs.
It took him just 194 deliveries to race to the mark and included 32 boundaries and two sixes. It is also the third fastest double century in Test history after Nathan Astle's (153 deliveries against England [Images] at Christchurch in 2001-02) and his 182 against Pakistan at Lahore [Images] in 2005-06.
He now joins Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar [Images] with four double centuries, while Dravid heads the list for Indian batsmen with five double tons.
In an amazing display of attacking batting, Sehwag smashed 23 runs in just eight deliveries to race from 174 to the 200-run mark. Such was his domination that South Africa could just hope and pray as every trick they tried had backfired.
There was no stopping Sehwag even after the double century. He showed scant respect to Ntini as he carted the pacer over the mid-on fence for his third six. He followed it up with a delightful boundary through the point region to bring up India's 300 in the 70th over. He then ended the session just as he had started it -- with a boundary -- as a few South African sprinted back to the comfort of the dressing room unable to bear his brutal attack in the unforgiving Chennai heat.
At tea on the third day, India reached 309 for 1 in 70 overs. Sehwag was unbeaten on a blazing 218 from just deliveries, inclusive of 34 boundaries and three sixes, while Dravid seemed in the opposite mode as he crawled to 10 from 56 balls.
Sehwag scored 108 runs of the 133 that India scored between lunch and tea in 24 overs. Interestingly, Dravid contributed just 10 in the 96-run second wicket stand.
It remains to be seen whether he can now bring up his triple century before the close of play. Right now, there is nothing in South Africa's bowling attack that can stop Sehwag from another blazing session.
Post-tea session: (159 runs, 36 overs)
There was some relief for Dravid after the break as he hit his first boundary after facing 64 balls.
Sehwag's first boundary after the break took some though. He glided Kallis through the point region for his 35th boundary and moved to 228. The 29-year-old slammed a short delivery from Harris through mid-wicket to progress to 239 and post the highest score at the M A Chidambaram stadium. He surpassed former India opener Sunil Gavaskar, who had made 236 not out against the West Indies in 1983-84.
In the same over, India also went past 341 and successfully avoided the follow-on. While India crossed the 350-run mark in 78.4 overs, South Africa had taken 96.3 overs to do so.
Meanwhile, Sehwag's entertainment continued to thrill fans. As if to add salt to South Africa's wounds he hit a powerful reverse sweep off Harris, taking the ball from outside the leg-stump. Four balls later he took a single through mid-wicket to bring up his 250 off 225 balls. It included 38 boundaries and three sixes. Still he looked unaffected by Chennai's extreme temperature.
India's 400 came up in the 90th over when Dravid played a single to long-on off Ashwell Prince.
Sehwag then charged down the wicket and hit part-timer Prince straight, for his fourth six. In the next over, Dravid smashed Steyn through the off-side for a boundary and brought up the 200-run partnership for the second wicket with Sehwag.
It was the first instance in Indian Test history that two double-hundred partnerships were scored in the same innings. Not surprisingly, Dravid's contribution (43) continued to be way less than Sehwag's 147 in the partnership.
Dravid was almost invisible at the other end. He brought up his 52nd Test half-century from 151 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries, in the 98th over, but all attention was focused on Sehwag as he approached his triple century.
No prizes for guessing that Sehwag didn't waste time in the 290s as he slammed Harris for a straight six to get to 297. He flicked Ntini to fine leg to bring up his second triple century in Tests and celebrated by raising his bat to a standing ovation from the crowd.
It took the Delhi opener only 278 deliveries to bring up his three hundred, having smashed 41 boundaries and five sixes in nearly eight hours at the wicket. It is now the fastest triple century in Tests, beating Hayden's record, which came off 362 deliveries, against Zimbabwe at Perth in 2003-04.
Quite interestingly, despite India boasting of several batting superstars it is Sehwag who has breached the 300-run mark twice. Only V V S Laxman [Images] came close with his magical knock of 281 against Australia at Kolkata in 2001.
At close on day three, Sehwag was unbeaten on 309, equalling his Test-best score, which he posted against Pakistan at Multan.
At the other end, Dravid was unbeaten on a steady 65 as India closed the day on 468 for one from 106 overs.
The two batsmen have so far added 255 runs in 53 overs for the second wicket including 159 runs in the final session off just 36 overs.
All the South African bowlers suffered and their only brief moment of joy was the wicket of Jaffer. They must now be worried that despite scoring 540 they could end up losing the match if Sehwag stays for a session or two on day four.