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India v South Africa, 1st Test, Chennai, 3rd day

'It was phenomenal, simply exceptional batting' - Dravid

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan in Chennai

March 28, 2008

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Dravid on Sehwag: "When he gets into the zone he's an incredible batsman" © Getty Images
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Rahul Dravid, who was a patient onlooker at the other end as Virender Sehwag blazed his way to the fastest triple-century in Test history, termed the feat a "really audacious knock".

"It was phenomenal, simply exceptional batting," he told Cricinfo at the end of a frenzied third day during which Sehwag knocked off records. "The range of shots that he played was terrific. He was in the zone, played 360 degrees.

"Of course it was a flat wicket, slightly on the slower side but he was creative. Standing at the other end it was almost like watching a highlights package."

Dravid himself made a slow start but it mattered not a jot with Sehwag going berserk, breezing through the 190s and then cruising to his second triple. "It's definitely not easy to be at the other end, almost as if you're asking when do I get to have some fun," he said with a laugh. "But I've batted all my life with people like this around me. I work on the basis of partnerships going well. It was just a matter of pushing him and egging him on. It was probably similar to the innings in Multan. That pitch probably had a bit more in it and it wasn't as hot there. But when he gets into the zone he's an incredible batsman."

Sehwag, speaking after the day's play, said he was motivated after being dropped from the Test side. Asked about this, Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, told Cricinfo the decision was in the past and said this was one of the finest innings he'd ever seen. "That [decision to drop] was something taken that time. He has hit a century in Adelaide and has now made a real special knock. It was quite amazing, the way he tackled the heat and humid conditions and still kept attacking. I consider myself very lucky to have been present at the ground. No bowler troubled him, no line of attack bothered him."

The former England batsman Graham Thorpe, who is currently here as a commentator, said Sehwag could have got out at any time today given his aggressive game. "That is why you sit there at the edge of your seat when you are watching him. There is no fear, he does the unpredictable. The over before tea, most normal batsmen would be saying [to themselves], get your head down, get through to tea. Sehwag smashes one over extra cover for six, the next ball he hits back over the top for a four. These things make him such a special player."

 
 
The over before tea, most normal batsmen would be saying [to themselves], get your head down, get through to tea, Sehwag smashes one over extra cover for six, the next ball he hits back over the top for a four. These things make him such a special playerGraham Thorpe
 

Thorpe was fielding during both of Brian Lara's record-breaking innings and said Sehwag could break the record. "But I don't think he will be playing for it, if there comes a time where he feels he can hit someone over the top, he will go and do it and will risk the chance of getting out. That's what makes the innings different."

Ramiz Raja, who watched Sehwag's maiden triple in Multan, said the encore was a privilege. "It's tough to compare the two innings but both had great improvisation from Sehwag," he told Cricinfo. "He made it look so easy. The great part about him is he doesn't bother about milestones and simply plays his shots. He's shown unbelievable control here, shots all around the wicket. It's up there with some of the best."

Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, couldn't believe what he saw. "I think that's the best Test-match innings I've ever seen," he said. "The way he played today was absolutely amazing. We tried to attack him, we defended against him, tried to bowl straight lines, bowl wide, over the wicket, round the wicket, did everything possible. And he countered us."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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