A Sehwag Comeback!
Virender Sehwag would have spent the last few weeks in eager anticipation of the first Test. The absence of spinners in the warm up games and BCCI troubles with the media had taken the limelight before the start of this test match. But few would believe that the Indian team would have had anything else on their mind apart from the Test series. Sehwag, in particular, would have wanted to get back on the pitch – only to undo the poor form he exhibited in England and Australia last year.
With quick bowlers bowling on green tops, Sehwag was never at home on those tours. But this series provides him an opportunity to give it all back. And he did – on the opening day itself.
The conditions were suited perfectly to his style of play. The pitch sowed sins of being flat and of low bounce in the very first over – something that Sehwag thrives on to relinquish is swashbuckling style of play. But surprisingly, that was not what Sehwag did. He did end up scoring at a run a ball. But the innings was made of crisp strokes rather than swashbuckling shots. It was rather unusual for Sehwag to start the innings slowly. He left deliveries that were meant to be left and blocked a few good ones. But the dodgy England bowling attack erred by giving him one too many loose deliveries. When an ordinary delivery came is way, Sehwag racked it up. Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad were the ones who bore the assault. Sehwag was unstoppable when the bowling wasn’t up to the mark.
Stuart Broad though made a sincere attempt at controlling the aggression by a minor tactical tweak. He started bowling short and into Sehwag’s body, cramping him for room and taking him out of his comfort zone. But this is where Sehwag proved to be a different man today. He was content at blocking those which were well bowled – moreover he was ready to wait for the odd loose delivery. And although Broad’s strategy worked 5 out of 6 deliveries, he paid the price when it didn’t.
Sehwag went on to dominate the bowling by scoring his century at more than a run a ball. Critics would argue that the conditions were too strongly in his favour. But one cannot take away the fact that the pitch, though lacking in bounce, pace and swing, was one where runs were difficult to come by – for anyone except Sehwag. The rest of the Indian line-up scored at less than 50% strike rate. If India are to win this Test, much would depend on how much time they give themselves to dismiss the English batting twice. Sehwag’s innings will prove decisive here. He as allowed India to score quickly on the first day of the Test match, a move that would eventually put pressure on England to score quickly on the final 2 days of the Test match – something which clearly wouldn’t be their forte.
One would hope that Sehwag can cash in on these opportunities and prove that – atleast in the subcontinent – he still remains to be a feared batsman.