ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Bangladesh v India, World Cup 2011, Mirpur
'I didn't think about the double-century' - Sehwag
Sidharth Monga at the Shere Bangla Stadium
February 19, 2011
might have taken extra care to make sure he batted deep into India's innings at Mirpur, but when it comes to his press conferences, middle overs continue to remain conspicuous in their absence. He talks like he bats, and after his 175 - his longest one-day innings in terms of runs, balls faced, and overs elapsed - his reaction was: "I am happy that at least once in my career I have batted 47 overs." That was followed by a warning: "I was planning to bat 50 overs. I couldn't do that, but hopefully I will do so in coming games."
That came moments after a similarly forthright show at the presentation ceremony, where he said, "Everyone did well, other than Sreesanth." He also said this was a grudge match after India's defeat to Bangladesh in the 2007 World Cup, something not many like to admit. He also maintained that Bangladesh are not a good Test side. "They can compete in ODIs, but today they could not."
Inside the press-conference room, the fun continued. The mix-up with Sachin Tendulkar, which resulted in the latter's run-out, was delightfully explained. "We discussed we will take it easy on singles," Sehwag said. "He was calling, and I was not listening, and I was looking at the ball, yeah. For a fraction of a second I thought I had made a mistake, but you know when I went to the dressing room, he said, 'It's okay. What's important is to win the game for the country. It's not important who is performing.'"
In Christchurch, in 2009, when Tendulkar retired hurt on 163
at the end of the 45th over, Sehwag told him he had missed out on a double-century. At 175 in the 47th over, Sehwag said he himself didn't think of that mark. "Not at all. When he came back not out, eight or nine overs were left. When I came back, three overs were left, and I still had 25 to get. I would have had to play 15 out of those 18 balls, so I wasn't thinking of the double-hundred. My target was to bat 50 overs, no matter how much I score."
His own innings, Sehwag termed the most satisfactory "as far as overs are concerned". It was obviously a conscious effort to play a longer innings, and take fewer chances. One of the bigger challenges of such innings is the middle overs, when fields are spread. Sehwag said his plan was to concentrate on taking singles. "It was easy for me to rotate the strike. I think I hit a six on 49, and after that till 75 or 80 I was just rotating the strike because I knew I had to play 30-40 overs, and if I do that I would get a hundred. Still my strike rate was more than 100."
There was praise for the other centurion, Virat Kohli, and not just hollow praise, but analytical appreciation. "Whenever we spoke in the middle, we told each other to not throw our wickets away. I still remember against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy [in Centurion, in 2009], he was playing well, but he played a shot straight to long-off. After that he has scored six hundreds. Sometimes a little nudge is enough for some people. He is a quick learner, and a mature batsman."
The last question to him was if he feels any pressure from the pundits that he is most crucial to India's prospects in the World Cup. Sehwag's dead-pan reply was, "My job is to play and make runs."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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