India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 1st day

Sehwag cool in the heat of the battle

There is an air of casualness about Virender Sehwag, so casual that it feels eerie, as seen again at Motera

ESPNcricinfo staff

November 4, 2010

Comments: 83 | Text size: A | A

Virender Sehwag steers through the off side, India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 1st day, November 4, 2010
There is an eerie casualness to Virender Sehwag's body language © AFP
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You associate attacking batsmen with their aggressive aura, the bossiness of their body language. It wasn't just how they batted but how they moved around in the middle that said much about them. Viv Richards would swagger and Matthew Hayden would snarl, Adam Gilchrist was restless, Michael Slater was possessed by a nervous energy and Shahid Afridi brims with adrenaline. Virender Sehwag remains calm.

His batsmanship might hint at insolence but his body language doesn't. There is an air of casualness about him - so casual that it feels eerie - as seen again today at Motera. He doesn't look intense nor try acting cool; he doesn't draw from verbals with bowlers, nor does he try to avoid them. He just bats. And he chats - with the umpire, his partner, even a friendly opposition player. He also hums tunes, as he explained at length in the post-match pitchside interview. He puts in a lot in a hostile, demanding environment?

If you weren't closely watching today, you'd probably have been deceived by his relaxed composure and thought there was no contest. Wrong. There was no hard-fought battle but there were several interesting moments. Some involved Daniel Vettori, who spent much of the day trying to get him lbw with the deliveries that swerved in and straightened. A couple of times, very early on, Sehwag edged his defensive pushes to pad. He adjusted very quickly, though, by shifting his guard towards leg. The feet were aligned on the leg stump line with the bat placed in the middle and not once did he push his front leg across after that. Not once.

He stayed so true to that intent that it eventually led to his dismissal. By then he was also tired, he'd hurt his knee and had a runner. The front leg should have come across a bit then but it didn't. Neither did he lean forward, allowing the arm-ball to move past the casual waft, hit the back pad and fall on the stumps.

There were a couple of moments against Jeetan Patel too. Sehwag tried to impose himself first ball with an aggressive shot and ended up slashing high over point. Patel then floated it well outside off; Sehwag hit one through covers and was beaten immediately trying to play a weak defensive prod. His immediate response was to practice a crashing drive. Soon, he blasted one aerially past short extra cover and hit another through cover point.

Patel gave up and went round the stumps with a deep point in place. No respite, though. Sehwag pressed back, collapsed his arms and carved the deliveries very late and well to the left of that deep point. Vettori knew moving that fielder finer wouldn't help as Sehwag would have then kept playing the shot more square. And so Sehwag kept carving and cutting it late wide of that fielder - and not once did it seem risky.

During one of Martin's later spells, the bowler started without a third man; his first ball was a length delivery that homed in on the off stump but Sehwag stood motionless. The ball kept moving towards the stump and there was still no response from Sehwag. At the very last instant, he stirred: he bent his knees, collapsed his arms, and steered it very late to the unmanned third man boundary.

All through there were the usual fun Sehwag moments. When Martin banged in a bouncer, Sehwag had to arch back a long way to avoid it; Martin looked across at Sehwag, signalling a rare win for the bowler. Sehwag's response: he practiced his upper cut over backward point and Martin turned and walked back quietly.

After the day's play, he showed no effects of those hours in the sun and heat. Asked whether he kept track of the score while batting, he said, with a straight face: "Sochna padhta hai. Scorers galti kar sakthe hain. (I have to. Scorers can make mistakes!)" It didn't seem arrogant, it didn't seem flippant or serious. It was Sehwag: great skills, great fun.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 6, 2010, 14:57 GMT)

I do agree with Lakx; HALF KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS!

Posted by lakx on (November 6, 2010, 5:49 GMT)

@Jelanichem - Half knowledge is Dangerous. True, Sehwag averaged 10.0 in 2002/2003 test series but averaged 42.71 and scored 2 centuries in the ODI series on the same pitches. The two centuries by sehwag were the only centuries of the ODI series. Even in tests Sehwag's 10.0 avg was the 7th highest average of the series. In the whole series a NZ player crossed fifty just once. The pitch was so bad but since it did not spin it was considered a good pitch. All the batsmen struggled and NZ were actually bowled out for 94 in a match in the series, India's lowest score in the series in the same match was 99.

The ODI were also played on the same pitches and the NZ scores in the series were, 109,254,109,123,168,199 and 125. These are not individual scores but NZ team totals. Including Sehwag's 2 centuries there were just 7 scores above fifty in the seven match series, 2 hundreds by Sehwag and 5 fifties. Sehwag is the only player who can score on such pitches.

Posted by   on (November 6, 2010, 0:49 GMT)

@Jelanichm; well, how can you tell that there is no top quality fast bowler now? what about malinga then? what about Akthar? what about Mitchell Johnson? What about Dale Steyn? What about M Ntini (he decided to retire though)? oh come on man! get onto your senses! 2002/03 is just the time he got into the national side. He just started middling the ball then at international level. Well after that he was arrogant! he became the nightmare for the bowlers! He is a top quality batsman! Go back to the Controversial Australian Tour. Look into the match at Perth.! Perth is somewhere the quicker bowlers have their paradise.! Sehwag stayed cool over there and played a match winning innings facing, Lee, Johnson, Tait and Clark ( I guess it was clark) now tell me, isn't he one of the greatest player? and I've no apologizes in telling that Sehwag would have hit 6 sixes of Lillee's over when he was playing in 70's and 80's. dude, never question the capabilities of a player.

Posted by Jelanichem on (November 5, 2010, 19:31 GMT)

I just find it quite annoying that people are calling Sehwag great. The man average 10 in New Zealand in 2002/3 series when Shane Bond was at his lethal best. This tells me that this man is mediocre against top quality fast bowling when there is something in the pitch for the bowler. The biggest blasphemy is that people are ranking him up there with Gavaskar. Gavaskar made runs against the best on all types of pitches. I make no apologies in saying if Sehwag was playing in the 70s - 80s he would not even average 20. The man is the greatest dead pitch bully of his time. There are no top quality consistent fast bowler in world cricket today. The ICC has made the game a bowler nightmare and a batsman paradise. There are only dead tracks and mediocre bowlers around. Its not sehwag's fault that he his born in a time where anyone with good eye hand coordination can knock the ball around. I am just disgusted by people calling a man who would have been ordinary in another era great.

Posted by khansa06 on (November 5, 2010, 18:23 GMT)

@Klobania I smell sour grapes on the pakistani/your side of the border. I do not know why evryone is linking you to SL cricket today.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2010, 5:15 GMT)

Let's be reasonable THIS IS A FLAT TRACK. While Sehwag is a good player, the conditions, the weak bowling attack and attacking field placings lend themselves to big scores. This is not a great innings by any stretch. But give him credit to be skilful enough to do it

Posted by Sitting-on-a-gate on (November 5, 2010, 5:00 GMT)

@Johnsrini - "Dravid wanted the captaincy so bad"!!!!! Which world are you from? This is the guy who gave up his captaincy, that too after a series win in England, when nobody expected him to. But then for the Ganguly apoligists, everything is a controversy. (Everyone kind of forgets that the controversy was specifically centered around Dravid-Chappels insistance on trying out younger players, particularly a cricketer who goes by the name of Suresh Raina...)

Posted by Razor88 on (November 5, 2010, 4:33 GMT)

@Beazle - Ask your 1970s players to come and Perform in 2010.... They would Jus break down to the Media Press and also Won't even match the strike-rate of a Mediocre batsmen of this era.. you maybe Right... But its meaningless to compare Batsmen of Different Era mate... Oh not to Forget lets See how your John thompson Performs in TODAY'S Flat picthes

@ Akm Dhl : Sachin....Dravid and Viru play for Personal Stats ?? :O ... buahahahha.. If they don't perform,you say its time for them to call it a Day.If they Score... Here you yap abt thing like this...

Posted by popcorn on (November 5, 2010, 4:32 GMT)

Oh God, why do you bore us with meaningless pitches? Haven't India learnt how to make sporting pitches after the concrete pitch they made for the Test match against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad? This is a TEST match, fellows. a TEST means - TEST between bat and ball. What a boring match to follow - watch or on the net. India can only win in India. Wait till India goes to South Africa. They will get whitewashed. Then we'll see who is Number One.

Posted by Razor88 on (November 5, 2010, 4:24 GMT)

@Beazle - Ask your 1970s players to come and Perform in 2010.... They would Jus break down to the Media Press and also Won't even match the strike-rate of a Mediocre batsmen of this era.. you maybe Right... But its meaningless to compare Batsmen of Different Era mate... Oh not to Forget lets See how your John thompson Performs in TODAY'S Flat picthes

@ Akm Dhl : Sachin....Dravid and Viru play for Personal Stats ?? :O ... buahahahha.. If they don't perform,you say its time for them to call it a Day.If they Score... Here you yap abt thing like this...

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