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April 1, 2008
Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, has indicated that his bowlers will target Virender Sehwag, the triple-centurion from the first Test, with more short-pitched deliveries targetted at his body during the second Test in Ahmedabad.
"We had a look at Sehwag's fantastic innings. He cuts the ball very well but we saw he played his first pull shot only after scoring 312," Arthur was quoted as saying by AFP. "So we are planning to target him with short balls on his body, cramp him for space and see how he takes it."
Sehwag destroyed the South African attack in Chennai with an outstanding 319 off just 304 balls. His knock ensured India were under little pressure despite conceding 540 in the first innings. All the South African bowlers suffered while Sehwag was at the crease, but they fought back magnificently after he was dismissed, taking nine wickets for 159 on the fourth day to restrict India's first-innings lead to just 87.
For Arthur's plan to work, though, his bowlers will need more assistance from the pitch at Motera than what was on offer at the placid track in Chennai. "We will have to wait and watch for the first ball to be bowled on how the wicket is," he said. "At the moment it looks good with some grass on it. Hopefully the pitch will help the seamers. It will be interesting to see how the ball behaves on the lush green outfield or whether it helps reverse swing."
Ahmedabad has traditionally been a good venue for the spinners - the last time India played here, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh took 17 out of 20 Sri Lankan wickets in a 259-run win - but in domestic matches this season, fast bowlers have had a fair amount of success. Siddharth Trivedi, the Gujarat fast bowler, told Indian Express: "This season, the wicket really helped fast bowlers. Bowlers who can hit the deck hard have got a lot of help from it. But spinners do come into play on the last two days." It remains to be seen, though, if the track for the Test is equally sporting.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur