The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sehwag sends shivers down Pakistan spines
- Only 40 overs possible on rain-hit Day II
- Indians make mockery of conditions

Chandigarh: Not many Pakistani flags were on display when play ended on the second day. The thousands of supporters from across the border, who had made their presence felt on Tuesday, were conspicuous by their absence.

With almost two sessions being lost due to rain, the visitors must have thought it wise to visit the shopping malls or catch up with old acquaintances. They were spared the sight of a disappointing Pakistan bowling proved to be an excuse, but they will have to rue missing out on an enterprising Virender Sehwag effort.

Wiser by the experience of the final day being washed out ' and with it a probable victory ' in the Chennai Test of the series against Australia earlier this season, the Indians are not taking any chances.

As Sehwag remarked, they will aim for quick runs in the next four-five sessions. The bottomline: Try and finish the match as early as possible.

Sourav Ganguly's disappointment on having lost 50 crucial overs was understandable. The captain, who is fighting a stomach disorder, will be fit to bat. Play will begin at 9.30 am on Thursday to make up for lost time.

The Indians are still 128 runs in arrears of Pakistan's 312, but Sehwag's flamboyant unbeaten 95 and Rahul Dravid's assurance has already sent alarm bells ringing in the rival camp. Not without reason did Bob Woolmer spent some extra time with the Mohammed Samis and Hasan Naved-ul Ranas.

Sehwag went hammer and tongs at the Pakistan attack from the outset. Lucky to survive two straightforward chances in the slips ' once courtesy Taufeeq Umar on 15 and then by Younis Khan on 83 ' Sehwag batted on undeterred.

He took 49 balls to complete his half-century, the seven fours and a six bearing the stamp of supreme authority.

Sehwag's approach also inspired the normally sedate Gautam Gambhir. During their 113-run stand, the openers made a mockery of the conditions which appeared to be loaded in favour of the swing bowlers. With no Shoaib Akhtar to intimidate the batsmen, it was fairly easy going for the Indians.

Pakistan's performance with the ball will only invite more pressure on coach Bob Woolmer. Former captain and coach Intikhab Alam has already criticised Woolmer and Inzamam, saying they lack a clear focus in their line of action. Intikhab was also critical of Younis Khan being sent in at No. 3.

'On this wicket, a batsman has to be very good technically to survive. I would have liked Asim Kamal to play at No. 3,' said Intikhab, who is currently Punjab coach.

Amid the ruins, only Danish Kaneria made his mark. The leg-spinner managed to turn the ball and make it jump at times. His tantalising flight can also lure the batsmen into making false strokes.

The assistance the spinners have got makes Aamer Sohail believe that the grass on the wicket was a camouflage and lulled the captains into believing pacers will call the shots. 'The teams will repent not picking a second spinner as the match progresses,' Sohail said.

The Indians can afford such a 'slip', but for Pakistan it could well mean the end of the road.

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