Super Sehwag leaves Test poised

India England
Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag's 11 fours and four sixes set up a thrilling final day in Chennai

All results are possible in the first Test in Chennai after Virender Sehwag's thrilling 83 whittled away India's requirement to 256 with one day to go.

In a brilliant display of fearless hitting, the inimitable opener set about India's distant target of 387. They would set a new record for the highest run chase in their own country if successful.

Sehwag fell to Graeme Swann as the evening closed in, leaving England 90 overs to claim the remaining nine wickets and take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

By the close of play, India were 131 for one, with Gautam Gambhir unbeaten on 41 and Rahul Dravid two not out.

Kevin Pietersen delayed England's declaration until three overs after tea, when England had compiled 311 for nine from 105.5 overs.

The basis for England's dominant position was the valiant fourth-wicket stand of 214 between Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood, which lasted until after lunch.

Strauss became the 10th England batsman to score a hundred in each innings of a Test, and the second against India after Graham Gooch at Lord's in 1990.

But the tourists lost some of their considerable momentum, scoring only two boundaries in 23 overs between lunch and tea against the old ball and some negative bowling.

The MA Chidambaram Stadium was the scene for the second tied Test in 1986-87, when India fell one run short of chasing the target of 348 set by Australia.

Andrew Strauss & Paul Collingwood

Andrew Strauss salutes the crowd as he and Paul Collingwood take lunch with their stand over 200

And anything looked possible this year, as Sehwag set about England's fast bowlers with abandon, igniting the Chennai crowd.

He smashed seven fours in the opening five overs of India's second innings, before guiding Steve Harmison for six over third man.

Monty Panesar was introduced in an attempt to stem the flow of runs, but Sehwag dispatched his third ball for six over square-leg.

By the seventh over, India had scored more runs than England had in their entire afternoon session.

Sehwag's fifty arrived from 32 balls, from the first delivery of the 10th over.

He had moved on to 83 by bludgeoning Swann over midwicket, but the debutant struck back when Sehwag tried to paddle him and was leg before.

Earlier in the day, Strauss and Collingwood resumed their long stand.

The Middlesex left-hander continued to show fine timing off his legs, and played a terrific cut off Harbhajan Singh to take England, who resumed on 172 for three, past 200.

On 72, Collingwood escaped a raucous appeal for lbw from Zaheer Khan around the wicket. He responded by lofting Amit Mishra for four to midwicket, a rare boundary.

Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood responded to pressure in ideal fashion with his seventh Test hundred

Strauss remained phlegmatic, but even he suffered a nervy moment when, four short of his century, he swepts Mishra just over the head of Dravid at leg slip.

His relief at reaching the landmark was understandable. He had twice narrowly fallen short of the feat, in his debut Test against New Zealand at Lord's in 2004, and against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 2004-05.

The joy at watching Collingwood reach a seventh Test century possibly got to Strauss, who had now batted for more than 12 and a half hours in the match.

Strauss drove straight to VVS Laxman at short cover for 108, having cut out the stroke for almost the entireity of his 244-ball innings.

Nonetheless, Strauss and Collingwood's 72-over effort eclipsed the previous highest fourth-wicket stand by England in India, 206 between Ken Barrington and Ted Dexter at Kanpur in 1961-62.

Andrew Flintoff departed for four, edging Ishant Sharma to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and Zaheer's lateral movement accounted for Collingwood, lbw for 108 off 250 balls.

Rather than hit out in the search for quick runs, England dug in, and Matt Prior ended a 113-ball wait for a boundary by coming down the track to Harbhajan.

Swann and Harmison were both dismissed by Zaheer before tea, and Prior picked out Sehwag at cover for a sprightly 33, prompting Pietersen to call time.

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