Chennai, March 28. A belligerent Virender Sehwag presided over a bowlers' bloodbath and blasted an unbeatean 309 as India responded emphatically to South Africa's massive first innings total in the first Test here today.
The dashing right-hander wielded his willow like a sword and cut the South African attack to ribbons during his 292-ball blitzkrieg that powered India to 468 for one at stumps on day three.
Sehwag thus equalled his career best score of 309, also the highest Test score by an Indian, which he had recorded against Pakistan in the 2004 Multan Test.
India now trail the visitors by 72 runs and Sehwag and Rahul Dravid (65) will return tomorrow to first wipe out the arrears and then establish a lead.
Sehwag's savage innings, the fastest triple century in the history of Test cricket, was studded with a staggering 41 fours and five sixes. He bettered Matthew Hayden's 300 off 362 balls against Zimbabwe in Perth in 2003-04.
Resuming on 82 for no loss this morning, Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer (73) gave no leeway to the South Africans and with the Delhi opener on song, Jaffer was content playing the second fiddle.
Sehwag reached his 14th century
in his 92nd innings in style, hitting Jacques Kallis to long off boundary.
Jaffer, however, could not reach the ton and departed soon
Jaffer's sedate 166-ball knock included six hits to the fence beside a six and though he missed out on a personal milestone, the Mumbaikar had played his part in the 213-run opening stand with Sehwag.
Smiles on the South African faces, however, vanished soon as Sehwag went berserk. Once he neared 150, Sehwag looked in tremendous hurry and Morne Morkel bore the brunt of his belligerence in the 61st over when he was hit for three boundaries.
It was then Harris who incurred Sehwag's wrath and the spinner was hit for three successive boundaries as the batsman's strike rate exceeded 100.
At 193, Sehwag did what probably only he can and went for a six. Even though he did not connect the Makhaya Ntini delivery properly, the big flourish of the bat was enough to send it soaring over the long leg boundary for a six.
Ntini's next ball yielded three runs and Sehwag posted what entered the record book as the third quickest double-hundred in Test cricket that came off just 194 balls. He in fact took just 23 balls to reach 200 from 150.
Nathan Astle's 153-ball double century against England in the 2001-2 Christchurch Test remains the fastest, while Sehwag stood second in the chart for achieving the landmark in 182 balls against Pakistan in the 2005-6 Lahore Test.
Records kept falling by the wayside and Sehwag went on to post the highest individual score at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Earlier, the record stood against Sunil Gavaskar's name following the batting great's 236 against West Indies in 1983-84.
Meanwhile, Ntini's reputation as a premier bowler took a beating on an unresponsive track and against an unforgiving Sehwag with the South African conceding 99 runs in his 18 overs of wicketless toil.
Harris did return with a wicket against his name but the left-arm spinner bled 141 runs in his 36 overs. — PTI
South Africa (1st innings) 540
India (1st innings)
Jaffer c Kallis b Harris 73
Sehwag batting 309
Dravid batting 65
Extras (b-8, lb-8,w-2, nb-3) 21
Total (1 wkt) 468
Bowling: Steyn 19-1-79-0, Ntini 18-2-99-0, Morkel 18-3-56-0, Harris 36-3-141-1, Kallis 12-0-61-0, Prince 3-0-16-0.
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