An 'infuriating' case of Sehwag

Like he did against South Africa in Nagpur in February when he threw his hand away to a poor stroke after a brilliant century, the explosive Indian opener gifted his scalp to the Sri Lankans on a platter on Wednesday, moments after reaching his 20th Test hundred.
Twice on day four of the first Test, he was dismissed playing expansive strokes to widish deliveries from left-arm paceman Chanaka Welegedara. The first innings elicited a wild thrash that looped to slip, the second a more controlled cut that was plucked out of air at gully by Mahela Jayawardene.

Sehwag has the licence to bat with freedom, but even his team-mates and the coaching staff are left wondering at times if he can be a little more selective in his choice of strokes in deference to the situation.

The Delhi Dasher, however, made it clear that he would continue playing his strokes, and especially that cut that has been both his boon and his bane.

“That’s my scoring shot,” Sehwag said when asked of the cut that proved his undoing on day four. “If you look at the 7,000-plus runs that I have scored in Test cricket, more than 3,000 runs have come through the cut shot. In coming matches too, I will play the same shot. Sometimes you get out, sometimes you score runs. But almost every time, I score runs with the cut shot.”

As a team, the Indians were guilty of poor shot-selection in both innings. Asked if there was a realisation amongst the side, he replied, “Everybody is aware of that but you can’t control certain things. Sometimes, you play a shot and get away with that, sometimes you get out. That’s Test cricket. Everybody has played enough matches, they are experienced, but it happens in cricket.”

Sehwag has played more long innings with greater frequency than anyone else, with 13 of his last 16 hundreds yielding scores in excess of 150. “In the Indian team, everybody has done that (played long innings), and not even once but so many times,” he countered. “Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, they have done that, and that applies to Dhoni and Yuvraj. They have all played more than four sessions several times.

“There is no secret to playing a long innings. You just go out and play according to the wicket and the bowler, you try to keep scoring as many as you can.” Said simply, but not quite as simple as that.

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