Posts Tagged ‘Northampton’

 Goutham Chakravarthi

 5 August 2011

Watching Sehwag bat is to see a batsman enjoy his trade. He seems just another kid from the Indian grounds who loves to swing it to the fences and detests any running whatsoever. But he is a clever man in disguise. He attacks at every opportunity, swings his blade with the speed of a Ninja and maneuvers it with hands that could make pottery. He is clumsy with his feet, but has the balance of a tightrope walker, eye of a hawk and the heart of a champion. On Friday, creaky shoulder and all, the whole of his country will be praying he brings the best of himself to Northampton.

India's hopes now rest with Sehwag even with all the mystery shrouding his fitness.

Sehwag has scaled heights few can imagine. Often, he approaches games with one objective – to score runs. There is no bowling or field placement that will restrain him from scoring. Critics will argue that he hits in the air and has dodgy feet movement, but he knows how to keep the good ones from getting him out. He is a determined soul who is not afraid to get hit. He will score runs in all directions and off both feet and of all bowling. His strokeplay is skillful, bold and adventurous with its roots deep in his imagination. It is no more a question of bowling to your field for the bowler; it is a question of bowling to Virender Sehwag. The most sanguine of bowlers start doubting the skills they spent their whole lives perfecting. With him, it is not a carefully structured plan that is about to take its course, but an adventure dipped in his imagination more wonderful than a Pixar movie.

They say it is fun to sit alongside him and watch cricket. As the new batsman might play himself in, you would get to hear him say, ‘that’s a four gone begging… and that one should have been hit to the stands’. His approach to cricket is uncomplicated as are his press conferences. Once asked how he would encounter a particular swing bowler, he opined that he would go after him and two boundaries later, the ball would stop swinging for the bowler is put off his game plan straight away.

His confidence reflects in his approach. He plays with a smile on his face. He despises being dictated to and swears to die by his game. He reckons spinners shouldn’t be allowed to bowl and relishes them like when a child sees ice-cream. He has indeed a tremendous record against the best spinners of his time. Only Muralitharan has bamboozled him early on in his career. He has since played one of the great modern day innings against spin at Galle when he carried his bat for a blistering 201 against a rampant Mendis and Muralitharan.

The downside of his enormously charmed batting is his mode of his dismissals at times. Like he can manufacture the most impossible scoring opportunities, so can he in getting out. For a man who is considered to have frailties against quick bowling and wet pitches, it must be a surprise to his critics that he scores any runs at all. It is a method that works because he is as good a player as his track record and reputation suggests.

For a man who has based his game on extraordinary strokeplay, his determination to score runs is as invaluable an ingredient. His preparation is immaculate. As scintillating his drives can be, his most incredible quality is to keep going for long hours once he is in. He terrorizes bowlers and sends them on a leather hunt all day long. That he has come within 7 runs of being the only batsman to three triple hundreds is a reminder of the extraordinary heights he has scaled as a batsman.

All his achievements as a player will count for little when he hopefully steps on to the park against Northants later today in a practice match. Creaky shoulder or not, his teammates are looking at his shoulder for strength and support. A nation of bruised fans following two defeats at the hands of this mighty fine English side will hope Sehwag can blow them apart. The fielders will tell you that they blow their hands every time they stop a Sehwag drive.

India’s hopes now rests on his creaky shoulder.