Sehwag’s 309 was against a better attack than his 319

March 29th, 2008 - 7:04 pm ICT by admin  

(Tale of triple tons)
By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) Unpredictable batsman Virender Sehwag seems to be fast developing a tendency to celebrate success in tandem. In October, his son Arayavir was born a day before his own birthday. On March 28, a day before the fourth anniversary of his historic triple century, he smashed another one to make the occasion doubly happy. Also, for the first time in his seven-year, 55-match eventful Test career, Sehwag has scored two successive centuries to give himself another reason to rejoice. He followed up his 151 against Australia in the fourth Test in Adelaide with a breezy 319 (531 minutes, 304 balls, 42×2s, 5×6s) against South Africa in Chennai Saturday.

The Delhi-based Sehwag is an unconventional batsman and person. He does not believe in doing - and saying - all the predictable things.

For instance, when asked to compare his two triple centuries - he had scored the first, and also India’s first, against Pakistan in Multan in 2004 - Sehwag said he would rate the second one higher than the first (309, 531 minutes, 375 balls, 39×4s, 6×6s).

Conventional wisdom would make any batsman value the first triple ton for his country/team higher than anything else that follows. But Sehwag said in Chennai that the conditions, including the pitch, were easier in Multan than the sultry and warm weather in Chennai.

What Sehwag did not say was that Pakistan possessed a much better bowling attack than South Africa. Any attack that has Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Sami, Shabbir Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq and Abdul Razzaq in their prime or thereabouts has to be better than the one comprising Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Morne Morkel, Paul Harris and Jacques Kallis any day.

Remember, the Pakistani bowlers were four years younger then and were bowling very well at that stage of their careers. Akhtar and Sami bowled really well, as did Saqlain, though their final figures may not give the right picture.

In 2004, Sehwag was just 25 and obviously less experienced. Now he has tasted failure and had suffered the ignominy of being dropped from both Test and one-day squads not long ago.

Since then, Sehwag’s batting has matured and he has added a few innovative shots to his repertoire. In the four years in between, he was raised to the heights of vice-captaincy and then dumped from the national team altogether, all of which has made him wiser and more mature.

While Sehwag was in decent form in 2004 too, this time he looked more confident as he had just scored a century off bowlers like Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark and Brad Hogg. Sehwag’s century not only reinforced a belief in himself, but also helped India save the Test.

If Sehwag termed the Chennai knock better it was because he may have felt he was under pressure. But that is not a convincing observation as he was fresh after hitting a fine century, with which he had proved that he was firmly back in India’s plans for Test cricket, besides earning encomiums for his attitude.

The 2004 tour to Pakistan was Sehwag’s first to that country - and India’s first Test series there in almost 15 years. So the pressure to perform in an unknown territory was higher.

What has not changed is Sehwag’s impetuosity to hit big shots while nearing big landmarks. Having been dismissed on 195 against Australia in 2003-04 while trying to hit a six, he successfully repeated his attempt, against Saqlain, in Multan to reach 300. He attempted sixes while nearing 200 and then 300 in Chennai, but was only partially successful.

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