The controversy over the ‘denied century’ notwithstanding, Virender Sehwag batted with extreme maturity to lead India to victory in the crucial tri-series game against Sri Lanka. True, India weren’t chasing a massive target by any means. Still, the conditions weren’t the easiest for the batsmen under the lights. Most of the top order struggled to cope with the moving deliveries. As such, a repeat of the disastrous batting effort against New Zealand seemed a possible danger. This is where Sehwag came to India’s rescue, and how.
Often in the past, the swashbuckling opener has hit India out of trouble. And while he was totally restraint here either — never expect him to be – there were sure signs of a batsman, who was willing to hold himself back, even be it ever so slightly for the team’s cause.
On this day, Sehwag was prepared to wait for the loose balls instead of trying to invent strokes, which has often been his bane in the shorter format of the game. It was a masterly knock that not only ensured that India stayed alive in the series, but also saw to it that they were very much on par with the other two teams, courtesy the bonus point gained. If only Sehwag can continue to adopt a similar approach in the coming one-day games, one is sure his success rate would only be that much greater.
If Sehwag was the undisputed hero with the bat, there were plenty of them with the ball for India. Praveen Kumar swung the game India’s way early on with a lethal exhibition of bowling under overcast conditions. His performance at the top was critical in guaranteeing that India did not feel the pinch of another lost toss by MS Dhoni.
More importantly for India, the other bowlers stuck to their guns as well and did not allow the Lankans to get away, unlike in the game against the Kiwis, where the opposition recovered brilliantly to post a challenging total and then dump India out of the match with a cunning bowling effort.
Ashish Nehra, whose fitness was a concern, used his experience under such situations to proper effect, backing up Kumar were well. And thankfully for India, Ishant Sharma too raised his game and struck some crucial blows. Following the early strikes, it was imperative for the spinners to carry on the good work. And both Pragyan Ojha as well as Ravindra Jadeja responded to the task on hand.
All in all, it was a well-rounded bowling effort for India, something which should please Dhoni no end. Having said that, it still remains to be seen whether they can be as effective under less helpful conditions. This is all the more imperative in case of the spinners, who have looked listless at times in the recent past.
A couple of other areas India will want to work on would be their batting order, which still doesn’t wear a settled look. Dinesh Karthik put in a match-winning effort in the Asia Cup final. But he hasn’t been up to the mark before and after that.
In the absence of Gautam Gambhir, India need him to make the transition to a consistent performer at the earliest. Also, while both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma remain in the scheme of things for India, one of them needs to be identified as India’s next middle-order lynchpin pretty soon, in case Yuvraj Singh’s woes don’t end.
The Sehwag-enabled win has definitely given India something positive, from where they can build on. For that though, the rest need to chip in as well.
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