Posts Tagged ‘sehwag’

Kohli called up in ODI squad

August 9, 2008

Virat Kohli, who led India to victory in the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year, has earned a surprise call-up to the national squad for the ODIs against Sri Lanka as well as for the Champions Trophy. Mahendra Singh Dhoni returns to take charge of the team after pulling out of the ongoing Test series while Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan are back in the squad. Ishant Sharma has been rested for the Sri Lanka ODIs and will return for the Champions Trophy, with Parthiv Patel and Munaf Patel missing out.

Robin Uthappa, who has been in indifferent form, has been dropped along with Piyush Chawla and Yusuf Pathan. The selectors also decided against including Sreesanth, with Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, saying that he needed to “prove himself in domestic cricket.”

It has been a steady rise for Kohli, who, after making his debut for Delhi in the 2006-07 season, came into national prominence during India’s triumphant U-19 campaign in Malaysia. An attacking batsman in the mould of Virender Sehwag, Kohli finished the the tournament with 235 runs at 42.16. He then joined the Bangalore Royal Challengers for the Indian Premier League, but his performances were below-par. Kohli staked his claim for national selection by becoming the second-highest run-getter for the India in the recently concluded Emerging Players Tournament in Australia.

Zaheer is back after a nine-month absence; he last played for India during their home ODIs against Pakistan in November, while Tendulkar returns after he missed the Kitply Cup in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup to recover from a groin injury.

The first of the five ODIs against Sri Lanka will be held on August 18 in Dambulla.

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

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India in strong position after play stops for bad light

August 2, 2008

Heavy attrition was followed by heavy artillery in the first two sessions of play, and India walked away with the honours from both: Anil Kumble came up with a special two-wicket over ten minutes before lunch, ending a resolute period of defiance by Mahela Jayawardene; and Virender Sehwag hurt Sri Lanka with a characteristic fifty – his first in a match in which he had scored a century already. Despite Jayawardene’s calm innings, and the fall of Sehwag’s wicket against the run of play, India looked like moving towards a comfortable lead on a pitch that should be at its worst in the fourth innings.

After India had secured a 37-run lead in the first innings, Sehwag continued from where he had left: hitting the first ball he faced for a boundary. Nuwan Kulasekara got a repeat dose four times in his four overs. Muttiah Muralitharan, introduced in the sixth over, was swept for four in his first over and a six in his second. Ajantha Mendis, brought on in the 17th over – the latest he has been introduced in his two Tests so far – was cut for a four in his second over. Only Chaminda Vaas, who was faced mostly by Gautam Gambhir, escaped the treatment. And finally, when Sehwag thrashed a wide ball from Vaas towards extra cover, Tillakaratne Dilshan held on to a special catch: it was fast, it was high, and Dilshan was at short cover.

Gambhir, meanwhile, who had made a slow start, quietly took the front seat: he had scored two runs off 20 when Sehwag had 22 off 15, but when Sehwag got out for 50, Gambhir had 39 off 65. His handling of Murali was exceptional: no more getting suckered out of the crease, he was almost always right to the pitch of the ball. He slog-swept Murali, cover-drove him, and then charged him straight down to reach his second fifty of the match – another first, as with Sehwag.

The first session was slow by contrast, but just as intense and gripping as the others, and perhaps much more crucial. Almost every over – before Mahela started farming strike following a double-strike – featured a loud shout, an edge that fell short, or a sharp spinning delivery that missed everything. Kumble and Harbhajan bowled 24 successive overs in tandem, and but for a three-over spell by Ishant Sharma in the final session yesterday, bowled 68 overs at a stretch. Harbhajan took his unbroken spell to 37 overs, and after he was finally taken off, returned immediately to bowl from the other end.

Jayawardene, despite back-to-back wickets for Kumble and Harbhajan, kept Sri Lanka in the game. He was unaffected by the spinning ball, the variations in the bowling, and all else that happened around him. There were no free runs on offer; but he was assured enough to not try to hit himself out of the situation. He managed a total of five boundaries in the session – Malinda Warnapura had hit four in one over yesterday. And once Prasanna and Vaas fell in consecutive overs, two things happened for Sri Lanka that haven’t happened in tandem for India: Jayawardene farmed the strike adroitly; and Kulasekara gave solid support to his captain, facing the few deliveries he needed to with aplomb. In sharp contrast, in the first Test, Laxman failed to keep the strike to himself; in the second, when Virender Sehwag farmed it, he got zero support from the tail.

The only quarter Sri Lanka received from India came from the close-in fielding. Gambhir, who let a half-chance go yesterday, couldn’t hold on to a similar offering from Prasanna early in the day. And when Jayawardene, anxious to shield Kulasekara, went for an unwise single off the last ball of the 79th over, Gambhir – at short square leg – failed to gather the ball as it came off a slightly bad bounce.

In keeping with the narrative of the match till then, just when Sri Lanka seemed to have got themselves the upper hand, another turnaround followed, with Kumble making his first impact of the series. Jayawardene, 14 short of a deserved century, edged Kumble to Dinesh Karthik, and the game was back in the balance. Although Jayawardene and Kulasekara frustrated India for 17.1 overs, India had managed to keep the partnership down to 36 runs. Kumble and Harbhajan then proceeded to remove the next two – taking the last three wickets in seven balls – to get the lead, which on this pitch will surely be bigger than the number it consists of.

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

Sehwag hits double century, probably his best one!

August 1, 2008

So far, this match has steadfastly refused to tilt in favour of any team. After another day of twists and turns, heroes and under-performers, and fascinating subplots, neither team can claim ascendancy. Barring rain, the Test looks poised to produce a result and the nicest thing about it is that it will be a while before a favourite can be identified.

But as it was yesterday, the morning belonged to Sehwag. He had promised his team a double-hundred and he never looked like reneging on it. Sri Lanka set deep fields to him from the start and time and again he found his space. There was an early charge against Vaas, who had shifted the balance yesterday with two late wickets, and a fierce cut sped past the man positioned at the point boundary to save it.

The feature of his innings was his remarkable certainty against the spinners. Throughout the morning, Muttiah Muralitharan bowled his off-spinners with six men on leg, and Sehwag kept hitting him through the off side against the spin, deftly manoeuvring the ball with an open blade. There were dabs for singles, a few punches past the cover fielder, and a breathtaking cover drive after dancing down the track. It was far from violent; instead it was artful, delicate and cheeky. And successful: Murali didn’t beat him once.

It was Mendis who came the closest to taking his wicket but he failed in the face of Sehwag’s determination to dominate him. When Mendis replaced Vaas at the Pavilion End, Sehwag cleared his front leg and slog-swept so hard the top edge nearly carried to the man on the fence – but ended up a six.

Sehwag has scored many gigantic hundreds but this must rank among his best. It came against massive odds, and it came when India needed a saviour after the two Sri Lankan spinners had humiliated their batsmen. Seen in isolation, he destroyed them. He scored 128 of his runs off the spinners; Mendis alone yielded 70 runs off 77 balls, including 3 sixes and five fours. He hit five more fours against Murali. It was a mark of his commitment to the team that he didn’t attempt to reach his double hundred with a six and even denied himself an easy single on 199. It would be absolutely reasonable to say that throughout his innings he occupied a different plane from his team-mates.

It is to Mendis’s credit that he retained his poise despite being roughed up by Sehwag. As he did yesterday, he provided the breakthrough that led to the collapse. Laxman was guilty of throwing his wicket away but Mendis had set the trap with a man midway to the mid-wicket boundary. Laxman managed to elude him once but not the second time. Once Laxman was removed, Mendis’s deception was too much for the tailenders – and, on current form, Dinesh Karthik must count as one.

In the last session, India found an unlikely saviour in Harbhajan who – out of nowhere – rediscovered his wicket-taking form to halt Sri Lanka. Both he and Kumble had looked pedestrian until Harbhajan managed to break through against the run of play. That done, he was a transformed bowler. He varied both his length and pace, and began to give the ball rip. With sharper fielders close to the bat, he would have had a fiver by the close. But Mahela Jayawardene has survived to keep Sri Lanka in the game.

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi