Sehwag blitzkrieg flattens Lanka

India poised for huge total after Delhi openers double hundred

Sehwag blitzkrieg flattens Lanka

Virendra Sehwag raises his bat after scoring a double century.PTI In the best batting conditions of the third Test, the dynamite from Delhi subjected India’s neighbours to the kind of battering seldom witnessed in international cricket.

Resultantly, India find themselves in complete command, primed to complete a 2-0 series victory and grab the top spot in the ICC Test rankings for the first time.

 When Sehwag is in the mood, like he was for all of 355 minutes on another enervating day, there is little the rival bowlers or captain can do. Their best hopes rested on the opener throwing his hand away in sheer boredom, if nothing else, but apart from two false strokes, Sehwag hardly put a foot wrong.

Wonderful innings

Angelo Mathews’  heartbreak – he was run out in the morning going for his 100th run – and a wonderful innings by Murali Vijay were as emphatically put to shade as Rahul Dravid’s excellent support act, because when Sehwag (284 n.o., 355m, 239b, 40x4, 7x6) bats like he did on Thursday, he perforce commands attention. Just 16 shy of becoming the first batsman in Test history to score three triple tons, he seldom lost concentration, batting at a pace that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Twenty20 international.
After six and a half run-drenched hours, India ended day two on 443 for one in reply to Sri Lanka’s 393, a lead of 50 that will only increase exponentially on the morrow and leave the Sri Lankans with a mountain to climb.

In a deep hole

Sri Lanka have themselves to blame for the deep hole they find themselves in after a less than acceptable first-innings batting display, but they are hardly to blame for what unraveled on the second day.

From the off, it was apparent that Sehwag had set his sights on a truly huge score.
In successive double century stands, he found exceptional support from rookie Vijay and veteran Dravid, both intelligent enough to refrain from attempting to emulate the Sehwag school of play without themselves getting bogged down or denying Sehwag a fair share of the strike.

Sehwag’s mastery of Muttiah Muralitharan was brilliant in conception and impeccable in execution.

Refusing to allow the off-spinner to dictate terms, he positively took the world’s highest wicket-taker apart with a breathtaking display of stroke-making that wasn’t based solely on brute force.

Already going through a miserable time on this tour, the 37-year-old Muralitharan conceded 78 runs in 70 deliveries to Sehwag. Barring one edge that flew through vacant slip, the rest came off the meat of the bat and went exactly where the right-hander commanded them to. It was sensational to watch, unless you were a Sri Lankan, and a 10,000-strong raucous crowd soaked in the entertainment whole-heartedly.

The quantum of runs apart, there was much to admire about Sehwag’s batsmanship. Alongside a fluent Vijay, whose driving was a sight for sore eyes, Sehwag ensured India didn’t miss Gautam Gambhir as 221 (177m, 237b) came for the opening wicket. That tally was more than doubled in association with Dravid, the second-wicket pair putting on 222 (177m, 244b) when stumps were drawn to temporarily halt the Lankans’ misery.

Dealing in boundaries

On another extremely humid day, Sehwag dealt largely in boundaries – 71 percent of his runs came in fours and sixes – but he did his fair share of running for his partner, especially during his alliance with Dravid. The quicker bowlers were dismissed with characteristic nonchalance, the slightest indiscretion in length punished ruthlessly, but it was in his dismantling of the spin threat of Muralitharan and Rangana Herath that Sehwag truly stood out.

There was decisive use of the feet in stepping out to drive along the carpet or over the top, and in using the depth of the crease to crunch the ball square on the off-side off the back foot, just as there were cheeky reverse sweeps against the turn to Muralitharan, the shot of the day a deliberate reverse paddle that all but kissed the wicket-keeper’s pads on its way to the boundary.

It was unorthodoxly stunning, a great fusion of innovation and irreverence. In essence, it was all Sehwag!

Score board

SRI LANKA (I Innings, O/n: 366/8):
Mathews (run out)    99
(200m, 132b, 15x4)
Muralitharan (not out)    4
(35m, 20b, 1x4)
Welegedara lbw Ojha    8
(5m, 6b, 2x4)
Extras (B-4, LB-6, W-2, NB-4)    16
Total (all out, 94.4 overs)    393
Fall of wickets: 9-379 (Mathews).
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 19-2-70-1 (w-1, nb-4), S Sreesanth 16-1-82-1 (w-1), Harbhajan Singh 32-3-112-4, Pragyan Ojha 23.4-1-101-3, Yuvraj Singh 4-0-18-0.

INDIA (I Innings):
Vijay lbw Herath    87
(177m, 121b, 10x4, 1x6)
Sehwag (batting)    284
(355m, 239b, 40x4, 7x6)
Dravid (batting)    62
(177m, 121b, 5x4)
Extras (LB-3, NB-7)    10
Total (for 1 wkt, 79 overs)    443
Fall of wicket: 1-221 (Vijay).
Bowling: Welegedara 16-2-73-0 (nb-3), Kulasekara 12-0-84-0, Herath 22-2-112-1, Muralitharan 20-0-119-0 (nb-1), Mathews 6-0-36-0 (nb-3), Dilshan 3-0-16-0.

Records galore

*Virender Sehwag registered his double century in 168 balls and his feat is the second fastest in Test annals. Nathan Astle holds the world record, reaching the double century off just 153 balls against England at Christchurch in 2001-02.

*Sehwag is the first Indian to make 200 in a day three times.

*During the course of his knock, Sehwag has become the ninth Indian batsman to aggregate 6,000 runs or more in Tests.

*Sehwag’s distinction of completing 6,000 runs in 123 innings is the third fastest by an Indian player, next only to the 117 innings taken by Sunil Gavaskar and 120 by Sachin Tendulkar.

*Sehwag’s unbeaten 284 off 239 balls is the highest individual innings by an Indian batsman against Sri Lanka, outstripping his own record of 201 not out at Galle in 2008.

*Sehwag’s innings is the highest by any batsman at Brabourne.

*Sehwag’s knock was embellished with 40 fours and seven sixes which is 202 runs through boundaries. He is the first Indian batsman to make 200 runs through boundaries. Sehwag surpassed his own record of 198 (42 fours and five sixes) during his innings of 319 against South Africa at Chennai in 2007-08.

*Sehwag has recorded four innings of 250-plus — a tally exceeded only by Sir Don Bradman (5).

*India (443) have posted their highest total in a day’s play, eclipsing the 417 for two wickets on the first day of the Kanpur Test against Sri Lanka last week.

*Rahul Dravid, with an unbroken double century stand with Sehwag, became the first batsman to be involved in 80 century stands of 100 or more.

*With two double century partnerships for the first and second wickets, Sehwag now shares 10 such stands in Tests. His tally includes an Indian record of six stands for the first wicket.

Press Trust of India 

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