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November 25, 2009

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India cracks highest day total in tests

INDIAN openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag struck sparkling centuries as India amassed 417-2 to take a firm grip of the second test against Sri Lanka after the first day's play in Kanpur yesterday.

Gambhir top-scored with 167 to notch a century in his fourth straight test after Sehwag hit an aggressive 131. The duo added a blistering 233 together after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss.

India recorded its highest total in a day's play, surpassing its previous best of 386 against South Africa in Chennai last year. At stumps, Rahul Dravid was unbeaten on 85 and eyeing his 28th test hundred with Sachin Tendulkar 20 not out.

Gambhir put in another solid performance to follow an innings of 114 in the drawn first test in Ahmedabad as another true pitch left the bowlers wringing their hands in despair.

He also added 137 runs for the second wicket with Dravid, who underlined his form after scoring 177 in the first test.

Offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan provided some relief by removing both openers, taking a brilliant diving catch low to his right to send back Gambhir.

Sri Lanka let slip its only real chance in the morning when Mahela Jayawardene dropped Sehwag in the slips in the very first over off Chanaka Welegedara.

Sehwag edged the left-arm paceman, who rocked India with three wickets on the first morning in Ahmedabad, but Jayawardene's view was blocked as wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene dived across.

After a slow start, Sehwag was soon into his stride, racing to 70 at lunch before completing his 16th hundred after the interval with a flick off Muralitharan to fine leg.

The Delhi batsman took 27 deliveries to reach double figures but then reached his hundred off just 97 deliveries, playing shots all around the wicket and hammering Muralitharan and legspinner Ajantha Mendis for a flurry of boundaries. Sehwag hit 18 fours and two sixes against Mendis, drafted into the eleven for injured paceman Dhammika Prasad, until he was caught at short cover.

India brought in pace bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, while left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha earned a test debut.


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