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Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Gambhir century puts India on top

Second Test, Mohali (day one, close):
India 179-1 v England

Dates: 19-23 December Start time: 0400 GMT (0330 GMT on Saturday)
Coverage: Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 LW and BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, live text commentary on BBC Sport website, and live on Sky Sports 1

By David Ornstein

Gautam Gambhir
Gambhir has scored three centuries in his last six innings

Gautam Gambhir hit an unbeaten century and was ably supported by Rahul Dravid as India dominated day one of the second Test against England in Mohali.

Despite losing the toss, England struck early when Stuart Broad removed Virender Sehwag in the second over.

But Gambhir, dropped on 70, and Dravid (65no) batted watchfully to steady the innings with a 173-run partnership.

As England toiled, Gambhir (106no) made his fourth Test ton before bad light curtailed play with India on 179-1.

Captain Mahendra Dhoni will be delighted with the way his batsmen responded to the loss of Sehwag and put their side, who are already 1-0 up in the two-Test series, on course for a substantial first-innings total.

Gambhir tremendous recent form continued as he claimed a third century in six Test innings and Dravid went some way to silencing those who want him removed from India's team.

TMS Close of Play - Second Test, day one

England must take early wickets on day two if they are to remain in contention, but the tourists know India have plenty of batting still to come and a fearsome record at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.

The hosts beat England by 10 wickets there in 2001/02 and by nine in 2005/06, while they also overcame Australia by 320 runs at the venue in October.

It was difficult to imagine proceedings becoming so one-sided when, after a start delayed by poor light, England made immediate inroads.

James Anderson and Broad, in for Steve Harmison, opened the bowling and the early signs were promising as both found late swing and seam movement off a cracked pitch that was bare in places and grassy in others.

Broad hit a near-perfect line and length from the outset and after twice beating Sehwag's outside edge he coaxed the right-hander into kissing the final ball of his opening over to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

It was a confidence-boosting breakthrough for the tourists, not only because it removed one of India's most dangerous batsmen but also because it brought in a woefully out-of-form Dravid far earlier than the hosts would have liked.

The 35-year-old former captain initially looked shaky and Broad beat his outside edge before seeing a strong leg-before appeal turned down by umpire Daryl Harper.

Dravid was fortunate to survive when he completely mistimed a short delivery from Anderson, his top-edge landing safely between square-leg and fine-leg.

Gambhir restored calm in typically cautious fashion and, after a period of solid defence and slow scoring, he picked up the run-rate by clipping and then cutting Broad to the rope.

Dravid eventually reached double figures in the 18th over when he powerfully pulled Anderson for four and India were able to accelerate when Gambhir lofted Monty Panesar for two crashing fours before lunch, which was reached on 51-1.

After the restart the pair looked increasingly confident on what was shaping up to be a good batting wicket.

Stuart Broad
Broad's early strike proved the only highlight for England on day one
Dravid swatted the ineffective Panesar (0-41) through the covers for four then drove Andrew Flintoff past mid-on and guided him to the third-man boundary.

England clocked Gambhir's vulnerability outside off stump and began targeting the area but a thick edge induced by Broad raced past Flintoff at second slip.

Anderson probed similarly but Gambhir, who reached 50 with a single off Panesar, twice connected firmly to send the ball flying over the slips for consecutive boundaries.

Graeme Swann was brought into the attack and immediately looked significantly more threatening than his fellow spinner Panesar.

Gambhir skipped down the track to the final ball of Swann's first post-lunch over and breathed a sigh of relief as an inside edge narrowly missed leg stump.

Swann almost had his man when Paul Collingwood failed to hold on to a difficult chance at slip and then should have had had him when Harper incorrectly turned down an appeal for leg-before.

But India re-established their authority towards the end of the session, and Dravid recorded his first half-century in nine innings by flicking Flintoff for two.

Gambhir marked the resumption after tea, which India reached on 134-1, by clubbing Swann over long-on for six but that would prove a rare moment of abandonment.

Neither batsman took unnecessary risks and continued only to dispatch the bad deliveries.

England were looking demoralised, conceding ones and twos all too easily, and Gambhir whipped Anderson into the leg side for two to bring up three figures.

Amid darkening skies, Anderson found some late swing to trouble both batsmen but they refused to succumb and took the light at the first offering.

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see also
Moores wants early India wickets
19 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
19 Dec 08 |  England
England crushed by Tendulkar ton
15 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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