India v Pakistan, 1st Test, Lahore, 4th day January 16, 2006

'Shoaib hasn't lived up to expectations' - Sehwag

Virender Sehwag - Pakistan's nemesis - cracks one of his 46 boundaries © Getty Images
On a day when he bulldozed past several batting records, Virender Sehwag has said that Shoaib Akthar, Pakistan's strike bowler, "hasn't lived up to expectations". Despite the fantastic partnership he shared with Rahul Dravid, he unequivocally stated that a long-term stance of opening with Dravid wasn't an option and confirmed that would be an arrangement adopted "once in a while".

"We didn't lose a wicket in our innings and that must tell you something about their bowling," he said at the post-match press conference. "Shoaib didn't get a wicket and he hasn't lived up to expectations." Sehwag was candid in his response when asked to compare the two attacks: "At least we got seven wickets, they haven't got even one."

Hailing Dravid's century, his first as captain, Sehwag said it would not be a permanent arrangement. "Dravid is a very good No.3 batsman and he opened in this game because we didn't have another opener in the team." Having made just one fifty in his last nine innings, Sehwag was happy to have got out of the rut. "I have always said it was a matter of one big innings," he said. "I have got some 30s and 40s but an innings like this give you tremendous confidence."

Commenting that a result-oriented surface would have been a better idea, Sehwag said that India were prepared to play on any kind of pitch. "Pakistan probably didn't want to prepare seaming tracks," he said, "and thought that their bowlers will get us out on flat, hard wickets. But we fought back well and are ready to play on any sort of track. It's not a good wicket for a Test match and if we have to play a drawn series, there is no use coming here. I don't think it will produce a result and tomorrow will be more like batting practice."

He added that regular stoppages were a hindrance and that chasing a big total was always a uphill task: "It's never easy for a batsman to maintain his concentration when one is constantly going off for bat light. It's tough to sight the ball in the bad light. It's tough to come back after the break and play the same way. Our first task was to save the follow-on and we needed to have a positive partnership. The start was very important."

The 403-run opening stand was just 10 short of the world-record for the highest opening partnership of all time, set by Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy almost 50 years back against New Zealand at Madras, but Sehwag said he wasn't thinking too much about it. "The world record really doesn't matter," he continued, "I didn't know we were close to the record until I came back to the dressing-room." He also added that he wasn't aware of beating Sunil Gavaskar's record for the fastest hundred by an Indian opener.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo