Sound start for India

In rather subdued conditions, Indian batsmen made merry in their only practice match, against Pakistan A, ahead of the first Test against Pakistan ? all four top order batsmen scored their individual half centuries, with the team score at a comfortable 298/4.

India left out Virender Sehwag, giving Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer to battle is out for a place in the first Test. Both of them staked a claim of being worthy of the opening spot, by scoring fine half centuries, on a pitch though flat, but on the slower side.

Gambhir was more on the aggressive side, and reached his half-century with the aid of nine boundaries, even while Jaffer was getting himself set in. The former fell before lunch though, cutting seamer Mohammad Irshad straight to point, with the score at 81/1.

Jaffer and captain Rahul Dravid carried on from where Gambhir left off, sharing a partnership worth 72. Dravid was particularly harsh on the spinners. India lost Jaffer with his personal score on 58, but that did not make a difference because Sachin Tendulkar too continued in the same vein, showing his classical touch even from early on in his innings.

Dravid was dismissed just before tea though, when he drove Imran Farhat to the cover, for 63. Tendulkar lit up the final session though, with some brilliant shots, especially off spinner Mansoor Amjad. He would have hoped to carry on to the three-figures, but was undone by a superb catch by the wicket-keeper off an under-edge.

India would have loved one of the players to go on and score a century, but still it was a very promising start to what should be an intense tour.

India 298 for 4 in 77 overs
G Gambhir 53, W Jaffer 58, R Dravid 63, SR Tendulkar 74

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