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Sehwag Proves His Worth For India

16 Dec

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Virender Sehwag is enjoying sensational form for India, thanks to his faith in his own natural aggression after an injury break as well as unusually cautious starts.

The explosive opening batsman’s match-winning knocks of 131 and 293 in Kanpur and Mumbai in the home test series against Sri Lanka gave the team a 2-0 win this month and the number one ranking for the first time.

The 31-year-old Delhi batsman has carried the same approach into one-dayers which helped him to stroke a career-best 146, his first ODI hundred at home since 2005, and set up a thrilling three-run win in Tuesday’s high-scoring first game in Rajkot.

His latest exploits have removed any lingering doubts about his place as an all-time great test batsman.

The Mumbai innings, when he almost became the first to notch up three test triple hundreds, added a new dimension to the constant debate in India about who is the country’s greatest test batsman.

That discussion will no longer be confined to former opener Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

Sehwag’s destructive innings in Mumbai even won him comparisons with West Indies great Viv Richards.

His special value to the team was underlined after a shoulder injury, which needed surgery, sidelined him for the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June and the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa where India fared miserably.

OWN TECHNIQUE

In Mumbai, Sehwag almost emulated Don Bradman, the only test batsman to have scored 300 runs (309) in one day.

His breathtaking attack turned the game on its head as he amassed 284 runs at stumps on the second day before failing to better the record of two test triple hundreds he shares with Bradman and Brian Lara.

Former test batsman Mohinder Amarnath praised Sehwag for the focus which has enabled him to top 150 in all but one of his last 13 triple-figure test knocks.

“He has got his own technique,” said Amarnath while doing television commentary. “But the temperament is what is important and he has got tremendous temperament.”

Dropped after scoring one run on his India debut in a one-dayer in 1999, Sehwag bounced back two years later with a century on his test debut in South Africa.

Sehwag, whose shots early on mirrored those of his boyhood idol Sachin Tendulkar, was persuaded by then skipper Saurav Ganguly to switch to opening to ensure a regular berth due to a packed middle order.

Quickly growing in stature by dominating bowlers, he showed his steely determination to stick to his style.

On the 2004 Pakistan tour, Sehwag became the first Indian to score a test triple hundred (309), reaching the mark with a six.

That was despite a similar attempt to reach 200 in Melbourne on the previous tour ending in his dismissal and triggering a batting collapse which led to defeat.

BAD BALLS

In Mumbai, he attacked champion spinner Muttiah Muralitharan on a bouncy pitch, paddle-sweeping to reach 100 and then a double century with fours.

Asked about his cautious approach in the initial stages in Mumbai before scoring the second-fastest test double hundred, he explained in his inimitable style: “My mind was totally blank. I only wanted to hit the bad balls. In the dressing room, they were saying I was also hitting the good balls, but I was only hitting the bad balls.”

Former Sri Lanka opener Avishka Gunawardene, commentating on television, joked: “Looks like Sehwag is saying Sri Lanka bowled only bad deliveries.”

Sehwag enjoys an impressive test record, having scored 6,248 runs in 72 tests at an average of 52.50 with 17 hundreds.

However, his strike rate of 80.44 and the ability to score big knocks give India extra time to bowl out the opposition and have played a key role in their improved overseas record.

He has amassed 6,876 runs from 212 ODIs, although his all-out attack has not paid off as often in the shorter format with only 12 hundreds against his name.

Sehwag, whose comments often reveal his simple approach to batting, has also mastered the art of tongue-in-cheek remarks.

On Tuesday, after the close win in Rajkot where Sri Lanka almost pulled off the second highest one-day run chase, Sehwag was asked if he was nervous watching from the dressing-room after hurting his knee.

“I was actually supporting Sri Lanka,” he said. “I’m a bit superstitious, so didn’t want to support India.

Source: nytimes.com

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Posted by on December 16, 2009 in Sports

 

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