Delhi v India Blue, Challenger Trophy, Indore September 26, 2013

Sehwag begins middle-order audition with quick fifty

A leaner Virender Sehwag came in at No. 4 for Delhi in their Challenger Trophy match against India Blue and produced a typically belligerent innings

A leaner Virender Sehwag emerged to play for Delhi in the Challenger Trophy, batted at No. 4, and scored only his second fifty since being dropped by India in March this year. The runs he scored - 59 off 38 balls, treating the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Vinay Kumar and Piyush Chawla with scant respect - are incidental. Sehwag made two statements: like Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh he has come back fitter, and more importantly he might have finally made his mind up to present himself as a middle-order Test candidate, something he said he wanted to do even when he was at the top of his powers as a Test opener.

A big crowd built around noon at Holkar Stadium in Indore with the prospect of watching Virat Kohli and Sehwag batting. There was disappointment in store when Sehwag didn't come out to open. Further disappointment arrived when Kohli went chasing a wide delivery in the third over, and edged it through.

At 7 for 2 out came Sehwag, beginning what looks like a longish audition at No. 4. In attendance was chief selector Sandeep Patil, sporting the mo' and rat-tail that is the trademark of Sehwag's replacement as Test opener - Shikhar Dhawan. After this Challenger Trophy, the clean-shaven and follically less-blessed Sehwag has two first-class games against West Indies A and the start of the Ranji season before the selectors pick India's next Test squad.

Albeit against an average attack, Sehwag came out with most of his trademark strokes intact. The first three balls he faced - from Bhuvneshwar - were typical Sehwag: a driven four through cover to widish delivery, a cut to third man for two, and then a flick through midwicket. Then came Vinay for his dose: a cut for four and a loft over extra cover for six.

The crowd in Indore was getting post-lunch delicacies, and it made its pleasure known through loud cheering. Sehwag pushed their vocal limits with shot after shot of authority. The run-out of Unmukt Chand didn't slow him down, but a familiar foe soon turned up: spin. Sehwag decided Chawla and Iresh Saxena were not to fit to bowl to him, and fell to Saxena after taking 19 runs off 11 balls of spin.

He was down the pitch, beaten slightly in the flight, but went ahead with the drive, and provided Saxena a return catch. It was an interesting end because he will have to face a lot of spin - at least in India - if he wishes to move down the order.

Delhi lost by 18 runs with 13 balls still to go. Will Sehwag be thinking a little more discretion against spin might have won them the game? Will he be thinking a little more discretion against spin might help him in the future if he indeed wants to be an India middle-order batsman?

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 29, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    Great Legend Sehwag is back !!!!

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    What is this over emphasis on "leaner"? As a reader said during the Challenger match today, the leaner look of Uthappa seem to be accompanied by leaner runs. Not-so-lean David Boon, Inzamam, Arjuna Rantunga, Colin Cowdry, and our own Ashok Malhotra (and many of their build) never had a problem with their body-mass-index, while playing cricket at the international level. Let us all get out of these idiosyncratic notions!

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    Sehwag: One sparrow doesn't make a summer. He never showed willingness to change his game, which was OK when he had the form & fitness.

    Unless there is an ABSOLUTELY DIRE need for recalling him, we should develop a bunch of youngsters, instead, to open India innings in various formats. Dhawan, Rahane, Mukund, Vijay, Parthiv, K L Rahul, Mandeep Singh, Unmukth Chand, Smit Patel and dozens more are waiting for their chances.

  • Bhalchandra on September 27, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    Well, I think we should wait until Sehwag plays in the overs 15 to 40. In these overs you may have two powerplays + nowadays they have only 4 players outside 30-yard circle. And hence I think playing Sehwag in middle order will fetch more runs. We always have Gautam and Shikhar to score fast in first 10 overs and build platform for Sehwag to launch his attack in these middle powerplays.

  • Dummy4 on September 27, 2013, 0:25 GMT

    It would be nice to pair Viru and Shikar as openers as Murli Vijay is going thro" a bad phase.

  • Android on September 26, 2013, 21:34 GMT

    I really hope he can make it as a middle order test bat. But given the woeful form Vijay had been in in, it wouldn't surprise me if the selectors pick him as an opener

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2013, 19:55 GMT

    Amazing that Sehwag scores 59 and he's been talked as a test comeback prospect. Fancy giving Ashish Nehra a chance on the same yardstick?? After all, he also scored 37 not out with S.R of 90.

    Lets stop obsessing over Sehwag. Let him work hard enough to even get the spotlight back on him. With a performance like this, I don't see him coming back in the Indian team. Throwing away a good explosive innings and not seeing it home is one of the problems plagued him in his India days too. Spin is another. He has to grow up and take responsibility of seeing the innings home as a senior batsman in the side. Then maybe, there can be talks of him getting into a shortlist of 35 players.

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    Let me tell you something, sehwag doesn't bother thinking too much. He is gonna play the way he knows and that he does might well.

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    Sehwag scored a lot of 20s, 30s and at times 40s during his recent horrer run with the test side. Good to see him crossing the 50 mark at least. But he needs a lot more runs, a 38 ball stay for yet another unconverted start is too far away from even thoughts of a test comeback. And he has to show far greater cricketing sense while playing spin, particularly so in the middle order. The selectors should look long and hard at the likes of Juneja, Rahane, even Gambhir and Rohit Sharma before they think of Sehwag. To get into the selectorial frame, Sehwag has to score big runs consistently, a 59 is nowhere near good enough.

  • Asim on September 26, 2013, 17:15 GMT

    What an enigma he(sehwag) has been .One of the most watched player of this era if not the most watched .

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