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The making of Sehwag

Prem Panicker | January 02, 2004 09:26 IST

Steve Waugh apparently figured he couldn't afford too much of Brett Lee's aggression (8-1-41-0 in the morning session); the fast bowler patrolled the outfield after lunch while Jason Gillespie and Nathan Bracken (the latter strangely bowling around the wicket throughout) did the hard work.

A late Gillespie out-cutter on perfect length finally did for Sehwag, just when it looked like he had conquered the bowling and his own devil of impatience; there was little the batsman could do to a delivery that drew him into the push and seamed just late enough, and little enough, to miss the middle and feather the edge.

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That was in Gillespie's 15th; an over earlier, the two batsmen had played an over that, to my mind, defined what their partnership has been all about. With the Aussie bowlers denying the sort of room Sehwag needs for his booming shots, runs had been relatively harder to come by after lunch.

In earlier times, that sort of session has invariably led to impatience, and some ridiculous dismissal; this time, the two played the percentages perfectly. Witness Gillespie's 14th over -- a probing sequence on line just around off and length just on the far side of good.

Ball two was pushed just wide of mid off for a quick single; Chopra pushed the next ball to the right of mid on for another single; Sehwag guided the fourth ball of the over to third man for an easy single; Chopra defended to the next, then played the last ball of the over defensively at his feet and before the ball could trickle out to where short square leg would have been, Sehwag has spotted the opportunity and called the run.

No stutter, no yes-no-maybe, no problems; just four unfussy runs, scored off what was a very very good over.

It was almost a pity when Sehwag went (72/115, 10 fours and one six, India 123/1); unlike Melbourne where he slipped into top gear and just kept going, this innings saw a more responsible batsman, prepared to weather tough times and work for his runs. This tour could well be the making of the guy, the time of his cricketing life when he adds an adult sensibility to the childlike exuberance that characterizes his play.

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