Impressive in his return from injury in the first ODI against Sri Lanka, senior Indian opener Virender Sehwag today said it was important for him to get back among runs after below-par performances during the disastrous tour of Australia.
"It was very important for me to score runs and provide a good start to my team. I hadn't scored runs in Australia and this innings is important for me as we will be playing a lot of Tests and ODIs," Sehwag, who came back after recovering from a shoulder injury, told the mediapersons on the eve of second ODI against Sri Lanka.
Although he missed out on a century by just four runs, Sehwag said he was not too concerned about missing the personal milestone as his contribution ultimately made a difference to the team's result.
"It's not important whether I get a big score or not but if I can give a good start and add around 50 to 100 runs for the first wicket, it helps the team. As far as my individual performance is concerned, I hope that I will score one in the next match," said the explosive right-hander.
Sehwag was full of praise for the opening match centurion Virat Kohli who has been in sensational form for the past one year. "He is a very talented player and has a bright future. The best thing about his batting is that he plays every delivery on its merit," said Sehwag complimenting his Delhi teammate.
Lasith Malinga has been one of the most respected bowlers in the limited overs version but he has been taken to cleaners by Kohli and Co of late.
Sehwag attributed this to the advent of Indian Premier League where Malinga has been a regular feature. "I guess IPL has been a factor. The Indian players have played a lot against Malinga. But that doesn't mean that he is bad bowler. He can destroy any opposition on a given day."
Apart from Kohli, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also came up for some praise from the senior player. "Ashwin has the experience of bowling within the first Powerplay and he has done well. He has now played a lot of ODIs and is gaining experience."
Sehwag doesn't think that toss will be a crucial factor at Hambantota although he admitted that batting first is an advantage. "If you get a chance to bat first, nothing like it as you can put runs on the board and the opposition team are under pressure to chase the target. But again if you see, Sangakkara scored 133 and showed that one can bat well under lights also."
Indian team's bowling at the death has been a concern but Sehwag said that in the age of T20, each and every team nowadays know the art of chasing targets with asking rate of 8,9 or 10.
"Our bowlers tried hard but Sangakkara and Perera batted really well. Nowadays batsmen don't feel the pressure while chasing targets with asking rate of 8,9 or 10. Still our bowlers were able to contain them at the end," Sehwag said.
"Sri Lanka are a very good team and they are also playing to win and won't give up without a fight. We have to learn from our mistakes, whether it's our catching or fielding in general or bowling line and length."
His innings of 96 wasn't a blistering one by Sehwag's standards but he disagrees that he is trying to pace his innings differently.
"It depends on wickets, the conditions. It's the first game of the season and one needs to take his own time, study the behaviour of the wicket. The target would be to keep a run-rate of five per over till the 30th over and take it from there on. We have some quality middle-order batsmen who can make full use of the third Powerplay (batting). It's important not to lose too many wickets with 20 overs remaining," the opener explained.
Sehwag also revealed that it was misundertanding on the part of on-field umpires that led to India going early for their batting Powerplay.
"Actually, I asked Virat that whether he signalled for Powerplay but he said 'No.' He told me that he was poiting towards the dressing room to get his cap and the umpires thought that he has called for batting Powerplay. It was case of misunderstanding," he smiled.
The batsman also assured that the team has been working on trying to maintain good over-rate after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was fined 20 percent of his match fees. "We always discuss about maintaining proper over-rate during our dressing room discussions."