Posted by: nestaquin | March 29, 2008

Super Sehwag

SehwagI was planning to write about other cricketing matters today but when you witness the fastest triple century in Test history you have little choice but to acknowledge the enormity of the achievement.

Virender Sehwag continued his outstanding form since his reinstatement to the Indian First XI, batting throughout Day three to finish 309 not out in India’s first innings reply of 468/1 to South Africa’s 540. (Scorecard)

It was an outstanding innings by the balding 29 year old who was unceremoniously dropped after the tour of South Africa in 2006/07. He consequently missed away tours to Bangladesh and England and the home series against Pakistan before regaining his place after India had lost the series in Australia.

There will be oodles of hyperbolic superlative written about Sehwag’s second Test triple in the days to come and deservedly so, however, in my opinion his match saving 151 in his previous Test in Adelaide was a superior outing. In that match, India were on the back foot against a competitive opponent on a fifth day pitch that was two-paced and turning and Virender proved his mettle and the selector’s faith under pressure against the world champs on their own patch.

The Chennai pitch is so flat and the conditions so conducive to batting that the adjective perfect appears an understatement. Our man in the UK, The Tooting Trumpet, spotted this early (See Comments) and his prediction of Brian Lara’s world record tumbling are on the cards.

Presumably, the crowds will flock to MA Chidambaram Stadium in downtown Chinauk tomorrow to witness the tilt at Lara’s crown. The 50,000 capacity stadium was three-quarters empty today as record after record tumbled. Considering the standard of Test pitch that is regularly produced in this part of India it is hardly surprising. That said, Sehwag was at his buccaneering best but the lack of opportunity for the fielding team made the day and the Test so far, a drowsy affair.

Dravid’s batting was painfully slow perhaps even selfish considering the quality of bowling, the defensive fields and the position of the match. Some will say that he was playing as a necessary foil for Sehwag’s aggression but when batsman of the calibre of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman and Dhoni are all sitting in the sheds the initiative needed to be taken to force a result.

If there is one lesson that other nations in World cricket can learn from Virender’s resurgence it is that dumped players, especially precocious talents, return hungry after rejection and with something to prove. Sehwag’s recent performances remind of Matthew Hayden’s dropping at around the same age and he returned with an insatiable appetite for runs and success.

The match looks set for a dreary draw but as we all know cricket is a strange game and prediction is foolhardy. I presume India will try to score around 700 and apply pressure to the historically fragile South African psyche through the wily Harbajhan and the dependable Kumble.

It has been a magnificent innings so far by Virender Sehwag and it will be interesting to see if he can overhaul Brian Lara’s 401 sometime tomorrow. He’ll need his team-mates to show the same aggressive attitude if India are intent on going one-up in this three test series.

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Responses

  1. Dead right Nesta. I thought Dravid was selfish too, until I saw that this was the most runs ever scored in a day by India. Maybe he is thinking that when Sehwag is out, he’ll maintain the momentum. 700 by tea tomorrow must be the target.

    Both Lara’s records may be under threat!

  2. Thanks Toots, I’m a huge fan of Rahul Dravid but in the context of the match, the enormous attacking talent to follow and the poor bowling by the Saffers I expected more than 28 off his first 100 balls. It was poor cricket and if I may use an analogy that I’m sure you’ll understand, Kallis-like.

    He picked it up a bit after that but I think India should have scored at least 50 more than they did.

    They could still win and it won’t matter but I hope for Dravid’s sake South Africa aren’t 8 down at stumps on Day 5.

  3. Nesta – If the Saffers are holding on like that, Dravid is culpable. If India win, his slow start will be forgotten. History, not for the first time, will be written by the winners.

    If Sehwag gets 400 and India force the win, it’ll be hard to think of a greater innings. If, If, If.


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