Carefree Sehwag unconcerned by missed ton
To listen to Virender Sehwag is to realise that perhaps we take our game too seriously. That, after all is said and done, it is just a sport. Two matches in a row he has thrown away his wicket with the bowlers at his mercy. One of them became part of the reason why India find themselves 1-0 down in the series, the other hasn't been as fatal, thanks to Sachin Tendulkar. At least that's what it looks like now.
In the second of those instances, Sehwag had shown remarkable patience and application in giving India a superb start, but threw it away when he tried to go from 99 to 105 - off the first ball he faced from Suraj Randiv today. The mind was made up to charge at the bowler, he saw a shortish delivery that he couldn't reach, made a last-ditch effort to fetch it and drag it to the on side, and missed the straighter one. He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Yes I read it. I knew it was the doosra, but I went for the shot."
It is not as if he is irresponsible or mindless. To suggest any of those would be unfair, and disrespectful to one of the sharper brains around. Still he gets really annoyed when all the opposition is trying to do is to contain. He fought his instinct for long durations today, and when he saw a new bowler, he perhaps saw an opportunity for a boundary: he had scored only one in the 16 previous overs.
"I am disappointed," he said. "Not because I was out on 99, but because today's day could have been very good for us if we were one or two down. We had a great opportunity to post a big total. But thanks to Sachin Tendulkar we are back in a good situation. If we play well tomorrow then we can avoid the follow-on and also bat the whole day."
Sehwag didn't quite panic then, at the mammoth Sri Lankan total. "Not really because the wicket is so good to bat on," he said. "I knew somebody will make a big one. I was expecting from VVS [Laxman] and Sachin to complete the hundreds, unfortunately Laxman got out. Full praise to Suresh Raina, he batted really well and scored his fifty. I am hoping that tomorrow morning he will come and complete his hundred."
Sehwag deserves praise for the way he began yesterday himself. It wasn't an easy job to play as aggressively as he did after having spent so much time in the field, and the debacle of the first match. "There was an opportunity if you bat for 18 overs," he said. "You have a chance to score 50. I grabbed the opportunity and scored 60 not out, and I came today morning and tried to score a big one but unfortunately I got out."
Asked if anybody was waiting in the dressing room to pull him up after that dismissal, Sehwag said, "Probably, I have played (too) many Test matches for anybody to come and tell me I have missed a hundred. It is written there in big letters that I made 99."
Thankfully for Sehwag and India, there was Tendulkar to cover up for his error today. Asked if there was anything new to learn from Tendulkar's batting, Sehwag is honest. "It is difficult to say what we have learned from watching him," he says. "Everyday we listen to him in the dressing room, and that is as good as learning.
"Looking at Suresh Raina batting and Tendulkar, it is difficult to say who is making debut. The big plus point is about Sachin is that whenever he gets down to play it is as if he is playing his first game."
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo