Pattinson halts marauding Sehwag before tea

Virender Sehwag put Australia to the sword with a swashbuckling 67 but was halted just before tea by paceman James Pattison to leave India on 99 for two wickets on the second day of the first Test on Tuesday.

After Australia were dismissed for 333, the hard-hitting opener belted seven boundaries in an 83-ball knock in which he was dropped twice, before Pattinson had him play on his stumps in brilliant sunshine at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Sehwag’s departure was the cue for Sachin Tendulkar to make his entrance and the master batsman’s arrival was greeted by a huge roar from both local and Indian fans, with the 38-year-old likely to be playing in his last test at the famed stadium.

The Mumbai-born righthander’s bid for a 100th international century began nervously as he shouldered his first delivery then played an inside edge onto his pads to get off the mark with the next ball.

Australia captain Michael Clarke brought Mike Hussey on to bowl the final over for tea in a surprise ploy and the part-time spinner very nearly cut Tendulkar’s innings short with his second-last ball.

The delivery coaxed an edge that rebounded off the pads and fell just short of a player charging in for the catch from short midwicket.

Tendulkar survived the last ball to head into the tea-break on two, with partner Rahul Dravid on 25, after he built a 77-run stand with Sehwag.

India resumed on 6-0 after bowling Australia out in the morning but opener Gautam Gambhir was soon heading back to the pavilion after making just three runs in his 23-ball stay.

Feathering an edge
Having never appeared comfortable, the 30-year-old from Delhi feathered an edge to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin off paceman Ben Hilfenhaus, who celebrated the first Indian wicket upon his return to the test arena after almost a year out of the squad.

Sehwag, in a typically aggressive mood, went after the Australian pacemen with abandon but was close to ending his innings early with an indiscriminate slog into the gully region.

The hard-hitting 33-year-old slashed at a Pattinson delivery and Hussey put down a diving chance.

Sehwag rode his luck again in the 50s after attacking spinner Nathan Lyon, sending a lofted drive that fell just short of Dave Warner at long-on, before Haddin put down another chance on 58 off Pattinson.

Resuming their innings on 277-6, Australia’s tail-enders added 56 runs for the final four wickets with paceman Zaheer Khan and Ravichandran Ashwin sharing two wickets apiece.

Zaheer wasted little time dismissing Haddin and paceman Peter Siddle, ending their 72-run stand, but Hilfenhaus and Pattinson frustrated the tourists with a 27-run partnership for the ninth wicket before Lyon joined the latter to add another 15.

Ashwin ended an enterprising 19 from Hilfenhaus, who slogged a boundary off his first ball, and then bowled Lyon as he attempted an ill-judged sweep.

Zaheer, playing his first test in five months after a long layoff from injury, took 4-77 to finish the best of the Indian bowlers, with Ashwin and Umesh Yadav each taking three. — Reuters

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