India v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Kanpur, 1st day
Lunch India 131 for 0 (Sehwag 70*, Gambhir 59*) v Sri Lanka
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir started sedately before shifting gears to launch India to a strong position by lunch on the opening day of the second Test in Kanpur. Sri Lanka managed to keep the scoring-rate down with the new ball but things went pear shaped for them after the spinners were introduced, with Sehwag and Gambhir taking 73 runs off nine overs.
It appeared as though Shewag was waging a battle against himself initially. He chased his third ball - a wide delivery - and edged it but was dropped as Prasanna Jayawardene dived across and distracted Mahela Jayawardene who spilled the catch at first slip. Sehwag then tried to go hard at Angelo Mathews a couple of times and was beaten. He then started to play defensively with the full face of the bat and as close to the body as possible. It has to be said, though, that the seamers did their best to tempt him into indiscretion. They kept the ball full and outside off, inviting Sehwag to drive, but he resisted after the initial nervy period. That his first boundary came only off the 27th delivery he faced said much about his mindset. Welegedera occasionally got the ball to nip back in and even had a plausible shout for lbw turned down, but couldn't break through.
Gambhir was the more assured of the openers against the new ball. He was dismissed playing away from the body against Welegedera in the last Test and took care to play close to his body today. He scored quite a few runs in the third-man region but the slow pitch was always going to throw up that kind of a wagon wheel.
The presence of three spinners and just one frontline seamer was always going to pose problems for Sri Lanka. The nervous spin duo of Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis wilted under the assault from the openers. It was a fascinating phase as both batsmen decided to go after the spinners and the bowlers couldn't cope. Gambhir lashed out at Herath in his first over, hitting him for three boundaries: He whipped through covers, cut past point and stepped out to loft to the straight boundary.
Gambhir took Herath out of the attack with his aggression and Sehwag nearly did the same to Mendis. He attacked Mendis but mistimed the first few balls. There was edginess in the air but Mendis didn't hold his nerve. He floated a full toss, offered a long-hop and slid one down the leg side and Sehwag disposed each one to the boundary. The attacking spirit was best seen in the last over before the lunch when Sehwag launched an offbreak from Mendis high over long-on.