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Last Updated: Friday, 26 December, 2003, 12:40 GMT
Sehwag justifies his talent
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport

Virender Sehwag
His 195 was the best score on any opening day at the MCG

A Simon Katich full toss late on Boxing Day evening should really have been deposited for six by Virender Sehwag.

If the ball had cleared the ropes, Sehwag would have registered the first double-century by an Indian in Melbourne.

As it was, he mowed the ball high to deep mid-wicket to depart on 195, but it still trumped the previous best effort by one of his countrymen at the MCG by 77.

So gifted is Sehwag that it is a surprise for some to note that the PricewaterhouseCoopers ratings have him at a lowly 38th in their lists.

But he still gets out too often to loose shots and his average would surely be higher than around 40 if he moved his feet half as much as, say, Brian Lara.

The encouraging signs are that though he is still young, he has shown a less impetuous approach of late.

Sehwag is never a player you would back to dead-bat his way to a draw for three sessions.

Part of the thrill of watching him play is his tendency to play outrageous shots, some of which he has picked up off his idol Sachin Tendulkar.

They do not always work.

Tendulkar usually plays the cut shot over point for four or six better than him and Sehwag twice tried the high-risk "ramp" shot over the slips without making contact on Friday.

BEST INDIAN SCORES AT THE MCG
V Sehwag: 195, 2003-04
S Gavaskar: 118, 1977-78
S Tendulkar: 116, 1999-2000
M Mankad: 116, 1947-48
G Viswanath: 114, 1980-81
M Mankad: 111, 1947-48

But with Tendulkar currently stuck in probably the worst rut of his career, Sehwag has played the best innings of his career in what is a massive Test match.

Naturally more suited to batting in the middle order in five-day cricket, Sehwag only opens because his country are packed with batsmen who have proven form between three and six.

Early on, it was clear he lacked the maturity to be a real success when facing the new ball.

Now he is more capable of playing deliveries on their merits, and is also streetwise enough not to be intimidated by Steve Waugh's captaincy.

At one point, Waugh posted two men at short extra cover within three yards of each other while Stuart MacGill bowled tossed-up leg-breaks.

Sehwag confidently stuck to his strengths, slamming two big drives which whistled past the two fielders stationed there for boundaries.

His 141-run opening partnership with Akash Chopra was only the second century stand for the first wicket against Waugh's Australians on their own soil.

And it was only the fourth recorded anywhere in the world against them.

Heaven knows what will happen to the Aussies when Tendulkar finally gets his eye in.

But for now, following the spectacular success of Rahul Dravid at Adelaide, it is Sehwag who has hit top gear in Melbourne.



Links to more Aus v Ind stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
Jim Maxwell reports for BBC Sport
"Sehwag's fierce cuts and drives pummelled the Australian attack"



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