Vantage point

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

About Sehwag

Regular readers of this blog will know what a massive Sehwag fan I am. Since I started watching cricket regularly at the age of 9, no cricketer (not even Sachin or Lara, although I love them to death), has excited and enthralled me as much as Virender Sehwag. Viru is, hands down, my favorite cricketer ever, I do declare. So I was very very struck by a few facts as I watched him score a century against the Lankans at Kanpur.

- Has our Viru changed a bit? Changed a lot? Changed in the way he thinks about and plots his own innings? Has he become a bit more circumspect? I saw a lot of hints that it indeed is so. And considering the outcome, I welcome this change.

- After getting a life very early on, Viru put his head down and got his eye in. He NEVER EVER does that. Well, rarely anyway. Usually, he keeps going at the bowling in 5th gear. But yesterday, he stepped it down a notch, let Gauti do the scoring, and settled in.

- What is with the straight drives? Viru used to hit one every now and then, but this is the first I have seen him hit so many in an innings. Like his general batting technique early in his career, kinda-like-Sachin-but-kinda-unlike-Sachin, is his straight drive. The bottomline is, it is hit hard and it is hit along the ground, which makes it a high percentage shot. That's the last thing bowlers of the world needed - Virender Sehwag adding a relatively safe boundary shot to his repertoire.

- His leg-side game against spinners.... is it just me or was he making a conscious effort to hit the shots along the ground? As if to preserve his wicket? The angle of his bat, usually used to be expansive and pointing upwards in the past, as if trying to hit every ball from a spinner for a six. But now he seemed to be aiming for along-the-ground fours. Hitting them very very well, mind you.

- In general, does it seem to you, based on this Kanpur innings that Sehwag has decided to play in a more "matured" way? If so, the outcome is astonishing. He still scored at over a run a ball (although one must admit, it was a flat pitch). He still kept the team ticking along at a breakneck speed. Maybe, the way Dravid, Laxman etc coming into the team allowed Sachin to ease up a bit, the purple patch that young Gauuti has hit has allowed Viru to adjust his game somewhat. Viru's test innings are usually pretty solid, no matter what his reputation as a cavalier. But this one was particularly solid, except for the life at the start and the dismissal in the end.

= And speaking of the dismissal, was that a big bombshell for a Viru fan or what? Notice what happened after Dilshan took the catch? Viru put his hand on his face in disappointment and stayed there for a second before walking off. Our Viru! Did that!! When has he EVER EVER shown any regret at getting caught out? Bowled, yeah, maybe he is pissed at reading the line/length wrong. But catch out? Viru's attitude is always "the ball was there to be hit, so I hit it". No regrets. He didn't show a trace of regret when he missed his maiden double century in Melbourne in 2003 when he went for a six on 195 and got caught. And yet here, at Kanpur, he seemed disappointed.

So there is some change in Viru for sure. Whether it is an enduring change, remains to be seen.