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My best Test innings: Sehwag

Faisal Shariff in Multan | March 28, 2004 19:33 IST
Last Updated: March 28, 2004 20:47 IST

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In Melbourne last year, when he was dismissed for 195, Virender Sehwag was unrepentant. He said given a chance he would still play the stroke that led to his dismissal.

Three months later, the moment he got into the hundred and nineties he slowed down.

"When I was on 199 I waited for a bad ball to get to my double hundred. Australia ka dismissal dimaag mein tha [that dismissal in Australia was in the mind]," he said after the first day's play in the first Test against Pakistan at Multan on Sunday.

Reading that statement, the Pakistanis might well say he is human after all. Because, all through his 271-ball essay he was simply brutal. Short balls were sent soaring over the third-man fence for six, anything on leg was flicked with supple wrists and the drives were audacious.

But the back-foot punch off Shoaib Akhtar was the highlight of Sehwag's innings, which was a mix of freedom and determination.

"I had decided to stay at the wicket all day because in Melbourne when I got out the team was dismissed for 336," he said.

For a man who is considered a bindaas [carefree] batsman, the thought shows that he is also aware of his responsibility to the team.

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For all the 376 minutes that the 'Delhi Demolisher' stayed put, tension returned between the two countries. Hopefully, it was only on the field. All the goodwill of the series it seems is history. The lights in press box were switched off and so was the power.

The veneer was off when Akhtar exchanged pleasantries with Sehwag and then gave the ball a bird's eye view of his helmet.

When Sehwag was asked about the altercation he said, "Chutkule chal rahe they [we were cracking jokes]."

It took six Test centuries before Sehwag could say he is proud of his innings.

"This is the first milestone for me. This is my best innings in Test cricket," he declared.

Asked which bowler worried him, he replied: "No".

Asked to compare the Australian and Pakistani bowling attacks, he said both were the same.

"I got 195 against Australia and 228 against Pakistan. That was probably the only difference," he said with a straight face.

Sehwag said he is happy but not satisfied with his innings and will go for 300 tomorrow.

He made it clear that he would still like to bat in the middle-order provided there is a slot to fill in.

Dedicating the knock to his parents and his "honewali biwi [to be wife]", he said he hopes India can pile a huge first innings total and go on to win the Test.

Describing the pitch as one that favoured batsmen, Sehwag said the wicket played a good part in his hundred.

His 183-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar saw India end the day at 356 for 2 and looking good for 600, what with VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh to follow.

Through the 47 overs they batted, Tendulkar spoke to Sehwag only when he played a bad shot, asking him to stay at the wicket and wait for the loose ball.

Sehwag's double century is the fastest ever in the subcontinent and the fifth fastest in Test history. If he can score another 72 runs, he will become the first Indian to ever score a triple century.

Indeed, it doesn't get better than this.

As for the Pakistanis, they had one positive on day one of the Test.

Their bowlers gave just 20 extras in the 90 overs they sent down, with only six of those runs being no-balls.

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