Cricket Uncut

A group blog run by professional cricket writers from across the world

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The battle of the series

Virender Sehwag v the short ball directed at his body. In my match reports for the Guardian for the second and third days of play, I'd mentioned that Sehwag does not pull or hook short balls directed at his body, presumably because he has decided that they aren't percentage strokes for him. If he gets width outside off, he slashes like a serial killer, but otherwise goes on the back foot and defends. It rarely gets him runs, and sometimes, when the ball rears up or comes in, is ungainly.

This is not the first time Sehwag has had a problem against such balls. During India's last tour of Australia, for example, he seemed to have a blind spot against bouncers directed at his head, and was hit by one such ball. But it has never been used consistently as a strategy against him. Until now.

Pakistan got him out in the first innings to just one such delivery, which Sehwag decided to pull and miscued, and they have peppered him with these deliveries through the second innings. His battle against Mohammad Sami was interesting, as Sami kept pitching short to him, without giving him width, and Sehwag kept stepping back and defending. He was thoughtful in between deliveries, clearly aware that this is a challenge he will have to find a way to win. And he found it hard to score: at one point he had 4 runs to Gautam Gambhir's 31.

Sehwag lashed into the spinners after the fast bowlers were taken off, and has been reading Danish Kaneria well since the third morning of the match. But that is not the battle to watch, as it was once expected to be.
amit varma, 4:54 PM| email this to a friend | permalink | homepage