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    Default Virender Sehwag surges to set up India-India v Australia.. 1st Test, Mohali,

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    Virender Sehwag delivered a brutal response to stun Australia with a quick half-century as India finished the second day of a two-paced Test on a high. Sehwag raced to a 38-ball fifty but was undone by Mitchell Johnson shortly before the close for 59, walking off frustrated by his error.
    India finished at 110 for 2 at stumps in reply to the visitors' 428, with Rahul Dravid unbeaten on 21 and the nightwatchman Ishant Sharma on 0. Both the local openers showed the positive intent that was often missing in the field when they put on 81 in 13.2 overs to build on Zaheer Khan's 10th five-wicket haul. Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir (25) and Dravid quickly changed the value of Australia's total during a breathless finish to a day that had previously followed a sombre tempo.
    After Australia had sweated to score at 2.82 an over, the Indians were soon careering along at a run a ball to upset a visiting attack that battled to regain control. Sehwag started biffing through the offside, hitting two boundaries from a Doug Bollinger over, and then crashing three off Ben Hilfenhaus. Nathan Hauritz's first ball went over mid-off, his next sped along the ground in the same region for the same result, and the over cost 11.
    Gambhir was lbw to Johnson (2-29) but the most important blow came with a few minutes left in the day when Sehwag's leading edge went to Michael Clarke at cover. The crowd went silent but the Australians roared, mostly with relief.
    The visitors were encouraged after they had blunted India's bowlers and blossomed under Tim Paine's guidance as he narrowly missed a maiden century in his third Test. Showing impressive determination, he first stabilised his team with Shane Watson and then lifted the pace with Johnson during an energetic 82-run stand.
    The gains came after Watson's assured 126 set the platform while Zaheer kept interrupting the tourists to prevent a damaging score. The total is tough to gauge and took more than five sessions to compile, but the Australians were satisfied after some difficulties on both days.

    However, it is a target that India's batsmen could conquer by the end of the third day if they build on Sehwag's start. At times during Australia's innings the lack of urgency from both sides, in particular the home team's lapses in the field, appeared to indicate everyone would be content with a draw. Sehwag changed the thinking.
    Having crawled 71 in the opening session, Australia relaxed through Paine and Johnson after lunch and started to swing freely against the tiring spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha. Johnson skipped to 47, striking three sixes, and provided a necessary boost to take Australia to safer ground.

    The stress eased for Paine after drinks in the morning when he glanced his first four from his 61st ball, gaining confidence from the unshackling. He drove and late cut Zaheer for another couple of boundaries and was soon comfortable in the humid conditions and on the turning surface.
    In the end Paine struck 12 fours from 196 deliveries, showing his ability off both feet, and his sharp reading of the slow men. He was dropped by Dhoni again on 86 but VVS Laxman quickly made up for the mistake with a sharp catch low down at second slip to give Zaheer his fifth breakthrough.
    The innings ended when Bollinger holed out to provide Ojha with his first wicket in his 52nd over of an economical but unrewarding marathon. Zaheer stepped up for the under-manned India with 5 for 94 while Harbhajan collected 3 for 114 off 49 overs.
    After resuming at 224 for 5, the Australians crept forward in the morning with a couple of aims.
    Harbhajan was also a threat and Ojha was tidy, but both were overused - they had to be - due to the knee injury to Sharma. Ishant returned with four unconvincing overs and India will be desperate for him to have more impact in the second innings.
    ...being a human...



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