The Indian Angle: Late-night videos help bring opener's drought to an end

 

Ahmedabad

If, at the end of the day, cricket at the highest level is all about confidence, there are few better examples of this than Virender Sehwag. There are few players who trust their instincts more implicitly, back themselves to perform irrespective of the quality of opposition, conditions or form than Sehwag.

For almost two years, he has not had reason to raise his bat in the direction of the dressing room and India's adoring fans in the format of the game that he's most successful at. For all Sehwag's piratical strokeplay, it is Test cricket that he has made his own, batting long and changing the face of games singlehandedly.

However, on England's first day of proper cricket on this tour, it took Sehwag just two hours to push the opposition onto the back foot, give his team-mates the lift they needed on a slow pitch and stamp his imprint on the game.

He did so not with a volley of scathing boundaries through cover and point – Sehwag's trademark – but with the patient and careful way in which he left deliveries alone.

With the ball not moving off the straight for the seamers, Sehwag was free to hit through the line, and indeed over the top, had he so desired. Yet the fact that he did not take the aerial route more than twice till he brought up a 45-ball half-century, was unusual.

"I have to thank DJ [CKM Dhananjay] our video analyst," he said. "He gave me videos of the last 10 matches that I've played and whenever I played 10 overs quietly I scored a big hundred.

"We were watching videos last night till 11pm. I realised that if I played the new ball cautiously it's good for me and good for the team."

These days it's hardly commendable that a Test player watched videos with an analyst, but it does show that a 30-innings run without scoring a hundred was beginning to play on Sehwag's mind. In typical fashion, he dismisses this suggestion and said the team never doubted his ability and neither did he. The fact, is though, that Sehwag's century drought has coincided with India's sharpest decline in recent memory.

A middle-order that included Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman had all the time in the world to do what they did best, when Sehwag fired at the top of the order. It's not mere coincidence that Ind ia's 4-0 defeats in England and Australia last year happened when Sehwag was not at his best.

Repeatedly, India's players have spoken about how different the dressing room is when Sehwag is on song, and while his runs calm his team-mates, they equally go a long way in putting the bowlers off their game.

"You have to hand it to Viru, the way he played at the start," said Graeme Swann, who eventually dismissed Sehwag for 117 off as many balls when a colossal heave to leg made contact only with air.

"We know he can be destructive, he's done it against us before. I've been reading in the paper that he hasn't got a century for a couple of years and he's been questioned by the local press … Good on him for banishing those doubters."

This century, coming as it did after a gap of nearly 23 months, when Sehwag previously took apart a New Zealand attack to score 173 in a day at the same venue, will give him some room to breathe.

It will allow him to continue to play with the kind of freedom that makes him the batsman he is. Although Sehwag insisted that he did not feel the pressure of public criticism because his team was completely behind him, no man lives in a vacuum, and a little reassurance does go a long way.

It is also worth noting that though Sehwag spoke so highly of his team, his response was singular when asked who had supported him through his recent tough times and helped him work on his game. "Myself only," said Sehwag, who will find, after his 23rd Test hundred, that he is no longer alone.

Anand Vasu is managing editor of Wisden India (www.wisdenindia.com). 

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there