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Sehwag, who has been out of form for long, notched up his 23rd Test century with a run-a-ball 117, while Cheteshwar Pujara was just two runs short of his ton as the hosts cruised to 323 for four at close on the opening day.
Giving Pujara company was comeback man Yuvraj Singh, who was batting on 24, on a dry Sardar Patel track which has already shown signs of assisting the slow bowlers.
Off-spinner Graeme Swann did the damage for the visitors, scalping all the four wickets that fell today, and pegged India back to some extent after the roaring start Sehwag provided to the team.
Sachin Tendulkar (13) and Virat Kohli (19) could not capitalise on the 134-run partnership for the first wicket between Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir (45).
Opener Sehwag, playing his 99th Test, blasted 16 fours and a six in his usual belligerent fashion, helping him to his first century since November, 2010.
He dominated the rival bowling attack after the hosts opted to bat on a bone-dry pitch, offering low bounce and some turn.
Sehwag was given good support by Gambhir who scored his runs in 111 balls and Pujara, who was closing in on his second Test century after batting watchfully for almost four hours and facing 181 balls. He hit 13 fours.
Pujara and Yuvraj saw off the new ball till close after offie Swann turned around the visitors' fortunes by sending back Gambhir and then Sehwag, Tendulkar and Kohli in quick succession.
All three wickets were claimed by Swann who took Gambhir's wicket from the pavilion end and switched ends to send back Sehwag and Tendulkar in the space of 22 balls from the opposite end.
Sehwag and Tendulkar were both out to attacking shots, the latter trying to hit with the break and hitting it straight to fielder Samit Patel.
After a fruitless first session, England struck an early blow after lunch when Swann sent back Gambhir in the second over, inducing the batsman to cut unsuccessfully off the back foot and cleaning up his stumps.
The left-handed batsman had been fortunate a few balls earlier against the same bowler when wicketkeeper Matt Prior missed a leg side stumping chance.
However, Sehwag, at the other end, batted in his inimitable fashion with Pujara stoutly defending at the other end as the duo consolidated the innings after a strong start.
Pujara took his time after starting off with a fine extra cover drive off Swann for four. He was fortunate as his flick when he was on eight was mistimed and the ballooning ball fell just behind Anderson at mid on.
Sehwag almost gave a return catch to Swann three short of his ton before lofting the England off-spinner to long on for his 15th boundary to reach his century in just 90 balls and 163 minutes. It had 15 fours and a six.
Most of Sehwag's boundary hits were placed in the arc between cover and third man and he hit a six over long on off Bresnan.
It was Sehwag's first century since making 173 at this ground against New Zealand in November 2010 and his second against England in 11 years.
Statistical highlights on the opening day of the first Test between India and England, here today.
# Cheteshwar Pujara (98 not out) has registered his second fifty in Tests and his second highest innings in Tests, behind the 159 against New Zealand at Hyderabad in August 2012.
# Thanks to his aforesaid unbeaten innings, Pujara is averaging 52.62 in Tests - 421 runs in nine innings.
# Graeme Swann (4/85) has registered his best bowling figures in Tests in India - his second best overall, next only to his 6 for 106 at The Oval in 2012.
# Swann has overtaken Jim Laker's tally of 193 (ave21.24) in 46 Tests. His tally of 196 (ave 29.41) in 47 Tests is the second highest by an English spinner, next only to Derek Underwood's 297.
# Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir put on 134 – their first century partnership in 16 innings. They had put on 137 against South Africa at Centurion Park in December 2010 - their last century stand for the first wicket in Tests.
# The above hundred stand is the eleventh for the first wicket between Gambhir and Sehwag. In terms of century partnerships for the first wicket, Gambhir-Sehwag pair is the fifth in Tests - Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes had recorded 16, followed by Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe
(15), Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden (14) and Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss (12).
# The 134-run opening stand between Sehwag and Gambhir is the highest by any pair at Motera.
# Gautam Gambhir, in the course of his 45 off 111 balls, has completed his 2,000 runs in Tests in India, aggregating 2008 (ave 41.83) in 29 Tests.
# Swann has taken Gambhir's wicket six times in five Tests - the most times a bowler has dismissed him.
# Virender Sehwag's excellent 117 off 117 balls is his highest score against England, bettering the 106 at Trent Bridge in 2002.
# Sehwag's aforesaid innings is his 13th century in Tests in India - his first after 30 innings.
# Sehwag had last recorded a hundred two years ago – 173 at Motera against New Zealand in 2010-11.
# Sehwag has recorded his 23rd hundred in Tests – his second against England.
# As an opener, Sehwag has posted 22 hundreds – the second highest for India, next only to Sunil Gavaskar's 33.
# In India, only three batsmen have managed more Test centuries than Sehwag. Sachin Tendulkar holds a record with 22 hundreds, followed by Sunil Gavaskar (16) and Rahul Dravid (15).
# Sehwag has recorded strike rate of 100 or more in a Test innings six times while posting hundreds.
# Pujara and Sehwag have added 90 for the second wicket - India's second highest at Motera. Sehwag and Dravid had shared a stand of 237 against New Zealand in November 2010.