January 17, 2009

Cricinfo Award-winning knock Sehwag's 'best-ever'

Cricinfo staff

The one to cherish: Virender Sehwag celebrates his 15th Test century in Galle last year © AFP

The innings that won Virender Sehwag the Cricinfo Award for the best Test innings of 2008 has earned the highest endorsement from the man himself. Talking to Sanjay Manjrekar, a member of Cricinfo's jury at the awards function yesterday, Sehwag termed his 201 not out against Sri Lanka at Galle as his best-ever Test innings, ahead of both his triple hundreds.

"Both my triple centuries in Pakistan and Chennai came on good tracks and I could feel on both occasions that the opposition simply didn¹t have it in them to get me out," Sehwag said, "but here wickets were falling regularly at the other end and I batted throughout the innings."

Sehwag¹s 201 came in a team score of 329 in an innings where only two other batsmen, Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman, got to double digits. Sehwag added 167 with Gambhir at nearly six runs an over and then watched four wickets go down for 11 runs. Sehwag said in jest that he was thankful to his team-mates for getting out so that he could become the second Indian opener to carry his bat through an innings. "After all, I am not Sunil Gavaskar, who could stay at the wicket for long periods."

Sehwag's knock came in the backdrop of a carnage in the first Test in Colombo where India lost by and innings and 239 runs, surrendering wickets to the two spinners - debutant Ajantha Mendis and the old master Muttiah Muralitharan. At Galle, Sehwag scored 128 off the spinners, including 70 in 77 balls off Mendis.

"I could pick the ball from Mendis' hand," Sehwag said. "I attacked him and created a little doubt in his mind. I hit the good balls for fours through covers and point. I was able to read his googly and top-spin.

"I was never worried about Mendis. In the seven or eight innings I played against Sri Lanka, I got out to him only once."

Sehwag rated Murali, along with Glenn McGrath, as the most difficult bowler he had encountered. Watching him bat at Galle one could have hardly known though, as Sehwag kept on hitting against the turn through the off side. Sehwag had a delightfully candid answer about the way played he him. "I was not able to pick his doosra, so I treated every ball as a doosra and tried to hit it. But I found them to be off-spinners. It did not matter much as I was getting boundaries," he said.

"No matter who is the bowler, I always like to attack," Sehwag said, "I don't like to defend and hate to leave deliveries. That is nothing but waste of time."

Sehwag went on to score an aggressive 50 in the second innings and India won the Test by 170 runs.