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Indian batsmen shine before thunderstorm

Pietermaritzburg: Virender Sehwag was the only failure as India rattled up 265 for seven in 50 overs before their World Cup practice match against Kwa Zulu Natal was ended early by a thunderstorm Tuesday.

Sehwag was dismissed for four, but Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh scored 66 apiece at a run a ball in a fourth-wicket partnership of 122, while captain Sourav Ganguly made 41 and Sachin Tendulkar 47 off 58 balls.

Kwa Zulu Natal had scored 69 for two from 18 overs in reply before the match was abandoned.

Indian coach John Wright was delighted that his frontline batsmen showed good form following the recent disappointing tour of New Zealand, where they lost the one-day series 2-5 and both Tests inside three days.

“Today was a good run-out for the team, particularly with the four main run-scorers all getting in and spending some welcome time out in the middle,” said Wright.

“We were happy with the conditions — the pitch was a little bit slow but generally true and pretty similar to what we are used to back in India. It was disappointing the bowlers didn’t get more of a run-out as they’re all a bit rusty, but (leg spinner Anil) Kumble looked in good form.”

Put in to bat by home captain Dale Benkenstein, the Indians were helped by a 90-run partnership between Sourav and Sachin, who came to bat at number three, after Sehwag fell in the third over. Sourav’s 41 came off 67 balls and was laced with three boundaries and a six.

Sachin and Sourav fell within a space of four balls before Dravid and Yuvraj brought the innings back on track.

They not only kept the bowlers at bay but also scored at a very healthy rate. They took the score to 220 in the 44th over before Yuvraj was bowled by I. Khan. He faced 69 deliveries for his 66 runs which included five fours and a six.

Dravid was even faster. His 66 came off only 67 balls with three hits to the fence before he was caught by Benkenstein off R. Veenstra in the 47th over.

Kaif, who made only seven, fell just two balls later to leave the Indians at 244 for six. Sanjay Bangar was the seventh batsman out, caught by A. Mall off A. Tweedie for seven with the score on 261. Ajit Agarkar remained unbeaten on ten while Harbhajan Singh was not out on one.

For the hosts, Tweedie was the most successful bowler, claiming three wickets for 43 runs. Veenstra took two wickets while G. Bodi and Khan took one wicket each.

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