Virender Sehwag: loves to smash it through cover
(c) AFP


All those who have classified Virender Sehwag as an exciting one-day strokeplayer who does not have the temperament for the longer game had better think again. Sehwag showed today, as he has in the past in Tests at Bloemfontein, Trent Bridge and Mumbai, that playing strokes and being judicious are not contradictory qualities. He played with the discretion of a quintessential Test player today, while hitting everything that was hittable. His 128 came off 212 balls at a strike-rate of 60% - not quite as belligerent as his one-day performances, but pretty much the rate the dominating Australians play at most of the time.

Consider where his runs came. Sehwag is normally a fluent strokeplayer in the point region and just behind - while he gets a lot of his runs there, he had also got out on occasion slashing to gully. Stephen Fleming played to this tendency of his: in the first Test, Fleming sometimes had three gullies and a third man for Sehwag, and he followed a similar policy this time. Sehwag's response: to eschew all shots in that region. Only three of Sehwag's 128 runs came in the point region - so much for all of Fleming's gullies. This is an astonishing statistic that indicates the thought that Sehwag has put into the game, and his capacity for self-denial - an essential characteristic in any Test player.

Where Sehwag got his runs Runs Runs off boundaries
Behind wicket - off side 5 4
Square of wicket - off side 3 0
Cover - off side 53 32
Front of wicket - off side 24 4
Front of wicket - on side 8 4
Midwicket - on side 23 14
Square of wicket - on side 8 4
Behind wicket - on side 4 4

As many as 53 of Sehwag's runs came in the cover region, 23 came in the midwicket region and 32 in the V between mid-on and mid-off. The 22 full-length deliveries bowled to him went for 37 runs and the 18 short balls he received went for 17 - Sehwag, with his superb range of shots, took full toll of the loose balls he received. Fleming might have plugged the point region - but what about the rest of the field.

Amit Varma is managing editor of Wisden Cricinfo in India.