Playing for the team: Sehwag
Hambantota, July 23: Back in the groove after winning the first match of the five-ODI series against Sri Lanka, India are keen to correct the few flaws that marred the first game and carry forward the winning momentum into the long season ahead.
Virender Sehwag, who played a crucial role in the win but missed out on a well deserved century by just four runs, spoke to the media about his batting and the season ahead.
On his patient 96-run knock in the first match being different from a typical Sehwag innings
We were playing a game after a long time and the ground is new, the wicket is new so we didn’t know how it would behave. That’s why we took our time and [knew we could] build [on it] later. Virat [Kohli] and I both played well and put on a good partnership. [It was] because of the partnership that we were able to achieve that [300-plus score] and after that the bowlers did a very good job. It is important for the openers to give [the team] a good start. We are trying to give [the team] a good start in each and every game.
On Irfan Pathan bowling like he did in his early days
Yes, absolutely. He has been working very hard on his bowling, fitness etc. He is fully fit and is putting in a lot of effort. He is bending his back and it is good to see Irfan bowling really well.
On his view of the windy conditions as a batsman
We played in Dambulla and we played in Wellington, New Zealand and now we are pretty much used to the wind. But sometimes when you are taking stance, the wind [displaces] you. You have to be a little careful while playing shots against the wind or with the wind so you have to keep that in mind. [...] Now we are used to the wind.
On bowling still being an area of concern for India as Sri Lanka came very close to the target
Sri Lanka too have come to play a match – it’s not just that the Indian team has come to play the game. They are a good team and they will fight [to win] when they play. It is part of the game but we too should learn from our mistakes and in forthcoming matches we will work on the areas that we made mistakes in. We will work on our fielding, catching, and bowling line and length.
On scope for improvement in the death overs
[The bolwers] too tried hard but you have to give credit to [Kumar] Sangakkara and [Thisara] Perera. They batted really well and hit the ball really well. Nowadays, since all teams are playing T20s and IPL, they are used to chasing eight, nine or even ten runs an over. They know where they can hit so it is good that the bowlers could at least contain them and we could win the game later on.
On R Ashwin’s role in the side
He has done really well but unfortunately he got only one wicket. He is working on it and he is working hard so hopefully he will deliver in the coming games as well.
On how tough it was to bowl in the Powerplays
It is tough. For a spinner, if you are bowling in the Powerplays it is tough but Ashwin is used to bowling in the first Powerplay in the IPL. We have seen that he has done well in the IPL and in one-dayers for India. He is mature and experienced now so he knows what he is doing.
On the qualities that make Virat Kohli a special player
He is a very good, talented player and he is taking his time. He is playing according to the merit of the ball so I think he has a very good future.
On whether the win was confidence boosting for the team
It is a very good thing that we won the first match of the season. It is important to carry [the momentum] forward and play well in the matches ahead. There are a lot of Test matches and ODIs ahead in the season. We have a hectic schedule ahead of us so hopefully we can continue to perform the way we did in the last match.
On whether he feels that India should win the toss and bat, considering he’s an opener
You cannot control the toss. If we bat first then nothing like it but the way [Kumar] Sangakkara batted, he scored 130 [-odd] runs even while batting second. [That shows] if you apply yourself you can score runs even under the lights. Everyone loves to bat first as there is less pressure than when you chase.
On the importance of the knock for him personally especially since he hadn’t had a great run in ODIs since his double-century against England
I think it is important for me to give a good start [to the team] rather than to score my fifties or hundreds. If you give a good [quick] 50-run start or a 100-run start, then the middle-order can build on that and score 300-plus runs like we did in the last game. The knock was important, yes, and I was aware of that. I hadn’t scored runs in Australia so I had to score big runs whenever I got the chance. Unfortunately I missed out on a hundred. In the coming games I will try to give [the team] a good start rather than worry about my own [score].
On whether his target was to bat for 40-45 overs
I was not thinking like that. I was just thinking of [batting for] for 30 overs and at least scoring at five runs per over so that our middle-order could take on after that. We have got some very good [big]-hitting batsmen so we can take on [from there in] the third Powerplay, [that is] the batting Powerplay, and the slog overs. That is the plan. Hopefully in the coming games we can stick to that plan. We [want to] bat long and [lose] less wickets in [the first] 30 overs, keep wickets in hand for the last 20 overs and build on from that.
On whether spectators were going to see Sehwag play like he did in the first match or in his usual, aggressive style
[How I play] depends on the wicket also. I mentioned that we played our first game on this ground with a new wicket so we had to take our time. It depends on the wicket and conditions.
On whether he would adapt to the situation
Of course. When you are playing your first game, [at a place] where you haven’t played before, you have to take your time. You have to see how the wicket will behave and whether the ball is coming on to the bat or not and only according to that can you play your strokes.
On whether the over-rate had been discussed in team meetings so that penalties and bans could be avoided
We always discuss [that] in team meetings. If we can’t finish [the match] on time, our captain can be banned. He was banned in Australia [for a slow over-rate]. We are discussing [that] and working on that also, especially the no-ball and over-rate [issues].
On scoring runs against SL’s strike bowler, Lasith Malinga
I think we are playing him in the IPL and have played a lot of cricket against Sri Lanka and against Malinga so that’s why [we score against him]. But he is a good bowler and he can win the game anytime from anywhere and we are aware of that.
On rating the ground and its facilities
It is a beautiful and big ground. It has good facilities [...] [and with] good stands and good big dressing rooms.