October 12, 2009

Sehwag means business


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The incomparable Virender Sehwag has shown once more that his batting talents are second to none. He has had a layoff from international cricket for reasons beyond his injury but his critics should know that he has lost none of his skills that make him the most feared batsman in the world. He has probably become wiser now as far as shot selection is concerned.

Sehwag was close to his best while playing for Delhi Daredevils against Wayamba at his home ground, Feroz Shah Kotla, in the Champions League Twenty20 Tournament 2009 on October 11.

Delhi desperately needed to overpower Wayamba in order to stay afloat in the competition after having lost their opening game to Victoria a couple of nights ago. The pitch wasn’t conducive to free flowing strokes yet Sehwag was the man they looked forward to in the crunch game.

Gautum Gambhir won the toss for the second game running and he had to make sure that the advantage was capitalized unlike the previous match when Delhi couldn’t even post one hundred while batting first.

The state of the pitch was very much in the minds of the batsmen and it was truly reflected when the flamboyant Sri Lankan opener, Tillakaratne Dilshan, played out the first over without troubling the scorers. It was a rare sight watching a maiden over being bowled and that too inside the powerplay session. Chanaka Welegedara deserved the credit for having kept Dilshan quiet.

Sehwag, who opened the innings with Dilshan, didn’t take long to open his shoulders and once he was underway the pitch looked full of runs rather incredibly. That’s the magic of Sehwag. He can remain untroubled on the most difficult of strips for two reasons. He has complete faith in his eyesight and secondly the bowlers also don’t have the heart to attack him with the same intensity and purpose as they do with other batsmen.

Dilshan kept struggling in his 16-ball 10 while Gambhir was also short of confidence on pitch whose bounce could not be trusted. But Sehwag kept hitting boundaries and the run-rate didn’t dip.

The enigmatic Dinesh Karthik did his job of feeding Sehwag with the strike and their partnership took the match away from Jehan Mubarak’s side. The ease with which Sehwag caressed the ball to the various corners of the ground was a treat to watch.

A century for Sehwag was there for the taking but as it has happened many times in the past the entertainment for the crowd was cut short against the run of play. Karthik pushed one towards the point region and took off for the quick single. Sehwag responded but he was beaten by the flat throw from Mahela Jayawardene.

Sehwag was run out after scoring 62 off 42 balls with the help of a six and 10 fours. The score was already 112 when he departed in the 15th over. Karthik made up with three consecutive sixes off Ajantha Mendis and the Delhi total reached 170 in the allotted 20 overs.

Glenn McGrath, the Australian fast bowling great, appeared to have derived the inspiration from his teammate Sehwag as was right on the money while returning to the bowling crease after 18 months. Delhi were never in danger of losing the game after the blitz from Sehwag and they lived upto the billing by winning it by 50 runs.

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