Virender Sehwag's behaviour at the Feroz Shah Kotla yesterday resembled that of someone suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sehwag, almost submissively, wanted to either score off every ball or simply feel the willow striking the red cherry. If neither happened for a mere three or four balls, it was rather hysterical to watch the explosive opener's body language at the non-striker's end.
Virender Sehwag at Feroz Shah Kotla yesterday. Pic/AFP
For Sehwag, who top-scored with 55 in India's overnight total of 152-2 in pursuit of 277, there was an eagerness to battle the slowness of the pitch. He realised the need to gather as many runs before it became harder to time the softer ball. When offie Marlon Samuels was introduced early, Sehwag drove him over extra cover for a six. Even when a Samuels ball kept treacherously low, he somehow managed to find the fine-leg fence.
There was much conviction in the way he adjusted to score behind square on the off side. When 999 out of 1000 batsmen in the world would have sensed risk in cutting so close to their body on a sluggish surface, Sehwag saw a scoring opportunity.
Power of wrists
These were quickish deliveries from leggie Devendra Bishoo to which he imparted the power of his wrists and arrogantly guided past second slip even as a first slip was in place. Three of his five boundaries came through that region - perhaps a first in a 10-year long career.
This was displayed again in the last ball of the 13th when he created width with his negligible footwork to an incoming ball from Fidel Edwards and steered it to sweeper cover. Amazed by Sehwag, commentator Arun Lal said something to the extent: 'This man is not human. How do you create width to a ball targeted to your pads? That ball was not meant to travel to the off side.' In the first ball of the 18th, he once again showed zero respect to Bishoo -- opening the face of the bat and using the turn to his benefit. Once again, first slip was a spectator as the ball raced away to the third man fence.
While most would have slammed the surface for poor bounce, Sehwag's not complaining. "It is not a bad wicket. The ball was keeping low but it is still a good track to bat on," he said at stumps yesterday.
There was also compulsion to be on strike. He trudged for a last-ball single on five different occasions while batting with Rahul Dravid. When Dravid struck one to point with soft hands and didn't intend to steal a single, Sehwag was halfway down the pitch.
His innings closed in on an anti-climax in the second ball of the 18th. Frustrated at his inability to find the on-side fence off Bishoo, Sehwag, at the non-striker's end, was seen talking to himself, in disgust. The ending came against the run of play in the first ball of the next over. With his feet lazily planted to the crease, Sehwag once again tried to late cut an incoming delivery rather, this time from Darren Sammy. This time he couldn't escape murder. This time he chopped it on. The West Indians felt that justice was done.