Monday, March 12, 2007

What to do with Sehwag

Dravid might as well have let the selectors leave Sehwag out. To pick him and then not know what to do with him is worse.
It's wishful to think Sehwag will miraculously become his old self during the World Cup. He's got sorted out at the top of the order. He plays from the crease, so a pitched up ball coming in to his pads makes him a candidate for LBW or bowled. He likes to slash, so the away going ball that cramps him for room gets him caught behind. He's not a ducker or weaver, so the one dug into his ribs gets him caught fending round the corner. All the new ball bowlers now know exactly what to bowl to him, and it's nice for them to be able to come to that nervous time at the start of an innings with a clear plan. That's round one to the opposition.
Initially people said Sehwag should keep on playing his 'natural' game. A few months of that, and he was advised to be more selective in his shot-making. So then he got tentative on top of everything else. These days he seems to oscillate between temerity and timidity. It's asking too much of him to deliver as an opener in this frame of mind, except against the likes of Bangladesh.
But imagine a change of scenario. Sehwag comes in to bat after 20 overs, with the ball having lost its shine and seam, bounce and movement, none of his weaknesses exposed. He then has the shots to devastate any opposition. And we all know how easily he can knock a spinner out of the park, especially in one of the smaller Caribbean ones.
So there's the irony. Dravid was right on the button to insist on taking Sehwag along, because he's a potential match-winner. After all, in 1983 it was that one knock of 175 n.o. against Zimbabwe that made all the difference. Such a knock only a Sehwag or a Dhoni can deliver in the current Indian team. But will the penny drop in the Indian think tank that the addition of Sehwag's hitting power in the middle overs and the unleashing of the surprise package of Uthappa at the top could take India all the way in the Caribbean?


Jayanth said...

Fireworks by No 3
Point there when you say only Sehwag or Dhoni can deliver the knockout Kaps kind of punch. But just athought: if Viru is slotted for the middle overs (and assuming Yuvraj and Pathan are to follow), Dhoni would make an ideal No 3.
Remember two of his big knocks came when he played up the order. In particular the Vizag innings when just as the pundits cheered the return of a free-stroking Sachin Tendulkar and the discovery of a pinch-hitting Irfan Pathan, Dhoni called alert by drawing open the curtains and putting on a batting display that almost put to shade an Adam Gilchrist innings. In sheer statistics, he had. Dhoni's 183 not out eclipsed the awesome Aussie's 172, the previous highest by a wicket-keeper. It was a performance that rivalled Schwarzenegger, Stallone or Bruce Willis in the action department: ten towering sixes and the confidence of a gale. That he came one drop with the score on seven and the first over yet to be completed, but stayed on till he crossed the target with a loft that cleared the fence and the Lankan total by five runs, is ample proof of his dominance over the game. And for all this, he faced only 145 deliveries, not even half the total numbers of balls bowled.
The game in the country has since rediscovered the importance of the stumper as a batsman. Over the years, wicket-keepers were merely utility players at best, with selectors settling for players who could stop the ball behind the stumps and score a few runs. In Dhoni, we seem to have a stumper-batsman many can idolise. He brings back memories of the swashbuckling Farokh Engineer who could intimidate bowlers. Yet, the Jharkhand cricketer has a distinct stamp: he not only reaches out to the ball and shows a penchant for lofting over extra cover but also drops a dead bat when he should. Lightning fast reflexes accompanied by cool nerves. So guys, Dhoni at No 3?

Sumit Chakraberty said...

Not if an early wicket falls. Why expose the guy to the odd ball that hits the seam and deviates. He's our Symonds - just send him in when it's time for the axe effect.

Rita said...

By now, teams like Aussies would have sorted out Dhoni's weaknesses - what with their video analyses(which apparently our team lacks - Greg Chappel being too much of a philosopher of the game, rather than conducting the donkey's work of strategising using the videos of opponents to their detriment, and fortifying our guys' weaknesses)- so best send the guy in where he feels the most confident, and where he can use his strengths the best - or he'll end up like Sehwag -- confused and runless!