Sehwag's short ball malaise
Virender Sehwag's ineptness against the short ball is now well known among bowlers all around the world. England exploited it superbly with balls that rose sharply just outside off stump and, today, Fidel Edwards exploited the same weakness but in a different manner.
Edwards had a short-leg and leg-slip in place and angled the ball into Sehwag's ribs - a form of bodyline - and had him hopping all over the place in extreme discomfort. Edwards almost had him twice - a lob off the gloves fell beyond the diving short-leg fielder and another fell agonisingly short of leg-slip. It was a fascinating battle but one that was cut short when Edwards suffered a hamstring injury. The following graphic compares the length bowled to Sehwag by Edwards and the other fast bowlers.
In the first innings, Edwards had bowled to a different plan. There was plenty of outswing on offer and though Edwards pitched nine out of 11 deliveries short, they were not targeted at the rib cage. With the pitch easing out for batting, Edwards targeted Sehwag with short-pitched stuff but the other bowlers kept it much fuller, primarily because they weren't as quick as Edwards and couldn't generate the necessary bounce off a slow pitch. And this meant that though Sehwag struggled against Edwards, there was no sustained pressure from the other end.
Sehwag wasn't in control of six of the 16 balls he faced from Edwards, while he was in control of 35 of the 43 balls bowled by the other fast bowlers. Edwards challenged Sehwag to pull - one of his most awkward shots - and forced him to fend uneasily off his hips without any semblance of control. The others, however, allowed him to free his arms on the offside and even over pitched on his pads and conceded easy runs. There won't be such a release of pressure when Sehwag tours South Africa in December, or England and Australia next year and he had better buckle down and sort out this obvious weakness.
George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo