Sehwag's last-minute dash

Dilip Vengsarkar, India's chairman of selectors, stressed on form and fitness when he announced the team for the first two matches of the forthcoming one-day series against Pakistan at home. Virender Sehwag has had trouble on both fronts for a while so it was surprising to see him among the 15 chosen.

On Thursday, after a disappointing performance against India Red, where he managed only 9, Sehwag told a television journalist: "What interview can I give when I haven't done anything". But the selectors felt he had done enough and drafted him back in to the squad for the first time since the tour to Bangladesh earlier in May.

Sehwag will be aware he can't take it easy now. Even though he said, "I had expected a recall," he must know he was rather fortunate to have got ahead of S Badrinath, who will once again have to wait on the sidelines before the selectors formulate a clear approach of giving him a fair trial.

The selectors did say that Sehwag's past form in the Test arena impacted their final decision. Sehwag himself was to later admit, "It gives me the confidence to be back against Pakistan, against whom I have done well." Sehwag's Test average against Pakistan is a whopping 91.14 from nine Tests, but his one-day average against them is a modest 32 in 20 ODIs.

What matters now is where Sehwag will fit into the playing XI, if he does actually gets there. Sehwag said he would let the captain decide what position he fits into, even though his career figures suggest he is better off batting in the top three.

Vengsarkar is of a firm view that form is not quanitfiable; instead it's a personal judgement. And Sehwag justified the national selection panel's decision with a scintillating 75 on Saturday against India Green before he erred while looking good for a century.

Sehwag got into the groove pretty early and flicked the first ball of the innings from Munaf Patel to the fine-leg boundary. It was the sign of the things to come. Sehwag's skill lies in his raw, unencumbered approach to batting. His batting is not easy on the eye but the ease with which he dispatches the bowlers is dazzling. Once you see it, you can't forget it.

At Motera, for about an hour, Sehwag freed himself and lay to waste the India Green bowlers. Unlike the hesitation he displayed in the first game on Thursday, the tone was set pretty early. Abhishek Nayar provided ideal fodder and Sehwag cashed in on his harmless medium-pace. He struck two boundaries in Nayar's first over, followed by one more in the second, but Sehwag's fusillade came with full force in Nayar's third over: a cover-driven four, a hoicked six over midwicket, a straight lofted four over the bowler's head and a chopped four to third man which took him two adrift of 50.

He went past the milestone in the next over, when he ripped Pankaj Singh to cover and long-on. Parthiv Patel chose not to take the third Powerplay, bringing on the spinners whose pace Sehwag had to adjust to. It was an effective move, with Sehwag throwing his wicket away while trying to cut one that darted in from Iqbal Abdulla, and brought an abrupt halt to a rampaging innings.

He briefly acknowledged the spectators' cheers with a half-raised bat but changed his mind and walked off with his head down. Sehwag had to be angry at himself for missing out on a deserved century. But he didn't have to hold his head down for long. While he receieved treatment for his back on the massage table, his team-mates broke the good news.