And he can do it by scoring slower and hitting fewer boundaries.
We often look for individual match-winners and few are so obviously identifiable as Virender Sehwag. Yet cricket is a team game and teams can do more than individuals when they get things right.
Sehwag has said that he wants to bat 50 overs in World Cup matches. India are almost certain to win matches if he can do that, but not because he’ll always have scored 175, like he did against Bangladesh in the first match of the tournament. To be honest, 40 overs should be what he’s aiming for.
There are three main jobs to be done during a typical subcontinental one-day innings and Sehwag should aim to do the first two:
- Get your team off to a flyer at the start
- Score steadily in the middle
- Belt the ball with all your might at the end
Sehwag does the first of those by default. There are no worries there. Achieving the first is pretty much unavoidable because that is how Sehwag is made.
The second is where he actually needs to make an effort and adapt. He doesn’t need to turn into Shivnarine Chanderpaul or anything, turning into Mr Risk-Free Accumulation, but he does need to ensure he stays in.
That would properly set up part three of the innings. Much as people assume that Sehwag is the best man for the closing slog, he really isn’t. He’s not a computer game character. He gets tired. A tired Sehwag is inferior to Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan who are at five, six and seven in India’s batting line-up.
- Sehwag start
- Sehwag-style consolidation
- Yuvraj/Dhoni/Pathan fresh, liberated assault
No other team in this World Cup can match that and that should be what India aim for. The batsmen responsible for the first and third parts of that are so good at their roles that those passages of play are almost risk-free. Bizarrely, it’s the middle part where things could go wrong – but not if Sehwag can will himself to drop down a gear.