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Friday, March 13, 2009

Is Sehwag overrated?

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Sehwag scored a hundred and the media was gaga about him. He broke Azharuddin's long standing record dating back to 1988. Can we really compare the two innings. I thought it would be a great idea to find out more about that 1988 match. Here is the link to the scorecard of that match and here are my reasons for considering the two innings comparable:
  • Sehwag got his hundred in New Zealand where the grounds are really small and the attack is inexperienced
  • Azharuddin batted at number six Sehwag opened the innings. This clearly means that Azhar batted his entire innings without any field restrictions while Sehwag batted under field restrictions for 15 of the 23 overs that he played. By that time the restrictions were over, he had already won the match.
One should remember that Sehwag has got a a lot of his hundreds while India is chasing. This is because whenever the team is chasing and Sehwag manages to stay for the first 15-20 overs, the required run rate invariably comes down. This forces the opposing captain to continue with aggressive field settings and thus effectively it does not matter whether or not the restrictions are over. On the contrary when India is batting first and Sehwag survives the initial overs, the opposing captain invariably goes defensive. This means fewer opportunities for Sehwag to hit boundaries. Now Sehwag is a boundary hitter and most of the times he gets dismissed in the 60's and 70's because he takes extra risks to get the boundaries. This is where Tendulkar is different because he makes sure that he stays till the end and in the process also ends up scoring hundreds.

On a flat pitch, Sehwag is unstoppable something he has shown in the past on sub-continent pitches and now in New Zealand. But when it came to a seaming pitch in the fifth ODI, he just didn't had the maturity to hang around. Once again, this is where Tendulkar would have played differently. He would have attacked the lesser bowlers of the opposition and would have played a long innings. Nevertheless, Sehwag has a special role in the side. He straightaway puts the opposition on the backfoot. He is effective even in Test matches. In Australia, he wasn't for the first two matches, but proved his worth in the next two. Against England in Chennai, India successfully chased 387 in the fourth innings. Now what is important to note that while Sehwag played a critical role, Tendulkar played an equally important role. With almost 400 runs, Peterson had given himself a chance to continously have an attacking field. What Sehwag did was to quickly knock-off 100 runs thus bringing the runrate down to a manageable 3 runs an over. Equally important was Tendulkars knock where he withstood some of most difficult spells from the English bowlers. Both knocks were complimentary and eually important.

A lot of India's recent success is not just because of the likes of Sehwag and Yuvraj going after the opposition. It is also because Gambhir, Tendulkar and Dhoni have played sensible cricket and invariably one of them anchors the innings. In the final ODI, Tendulkar wasn't playing while both Dhoni and Gambhir got out cheaply. Sehwag once again threw away a good start after Vettori withheld the powerplay. It just goes to show how critical a sheet anchor role is. In Australia, it was Tendulkar who won back to back man of the match awards in the best of three finals because of which India could win the VB Series. This Indian Team may be good but without Tendulkar, only Dhoni is the man who has shown remarkable consistency under different conditions.

It was good to see Dhoni promoting Rohit Sharma, but what about Yusuf Pathan. Yusuf got into the ODI side after his excellent performance in the IPL last year. But ever since getting into the side, Dhoni has been using him at number 7 in the power packed lineup. Moreover he has hardly been used as a bowling option with Dhoni preferring Yuvraj over him. Clearly, if Dhoni doesn't considers him as a bowling option, it means that he would prefer Rohit Sharma over Yusuf Pathan on a long term basis provided he gets some consistency. Yusuf hardly got any opportunity to either bat or bowl and when he did get to bat in the last ODI, he threw his wicket. He has shown what he can do in the IPL and also in the T20 against Sri Lanka recently. Unfortunately it seems that he is not in Dhoni's scheme of things in the long run.

Sehwag is here to stay. But he is now near the greatest batsman as some people in the media are suggesting. He can only play this way because there is a Tendulkar and Dhoni in the side.
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7 comments:

  1. Sehwag is a slayer, no less. He will be counted as among the legends of the game by the time he is done. He already has two triple hundreds in Tests and now that his One Day performance is back on track, he is soon going hit a double, may be more, in that form too.

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  2. I beg to differ. He has got all those triple and double hundreds on flat tracks. Moreover, he has batted most of times in a team that was full of legendary batsman, while Tendulkar batted alone with hardly any support. Both during the 91-92 and 99-00 tours of Australia, Tendulkar was the only one to show some resistance.

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  3. Exactly!!Why don't people realize that he hits only in the conditions he is adjusted to??

    While I like Sehwag for the way he smashes the ball, but I don't consider him any match to Sachin or any other great players for that matter. Plus, even though his average is pretty ok, I don't think he's consistent..He's someone who scores high on a day and very low on the next two days, isn't it??

    I am definitely not being a critic though, don't wanna be a spoilsport and cynic.

    Have read your reply comment on last post as well.Liked it, But still one question :-

    Are we better off without an economically ( not politically ) stronger pakistan or we are not?

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  4. Well guys, I do not agree when you say Sehwag has hit triple centuries on flat wickets. He is not alone to play on flat wickets there were 21 other players with him.
    Has Tendulkar not played on a flat wicket in his 20 long cricketing years? Or any other Indian batsman?
    Tendulkar is a legend. Sehwag may or may not become a legend, but he is damn good. Give the fella credit he deserves.
    Virendra

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  5. Virendra, Welcome to my blog.
    First of all, let me explain u a simple fact. Pitches in Test matches across the world have become flatter. This is becoz of the pressure from broadcasters who do not want the Test Matches to end in 3 or 4 days since they loose a lot of revenue. Tendulkar has batted mostly in the previous era. In the modern era, he has missed substantial number of matches becoz of injuries.

    Secondly, let me remind u of the 1992 and 1999 tour of Australia where Sachin was only one got hundreds from India. For a long time, Sachin has waged a lone battle particularly abroad. Overtime his role in the team has become that of a rescuer. Sehwag has joined a team of legends which gives him flexibility of playing his natural game while Tendulkar when in his prime was forced to change his game for the team.

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  6. I think Sehwag is grossly over-rated. His performance in the NZ test series has been disappointing to say the least. The numbers back this up - he has averaged 28.00 in a series that has featured some very batsmen-friendly pitches. It has not that he has been in poor form, as I think he is seeing the ball well and his timing seems to be fine. Rather, I think he has started to believe the hype and is batting with an attitude not befitting of test cricket. In short, he has been getting himself out due to poor shot selection and an arrogant approach at the crease. He has been keeping the New Zealanders in the game, as they know that he is a 1-dimensional player who will always offer opportunities. This approach is tolerable when you have the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid to steady the ship. However, if India aspire to be the Number 1 test team in the world, they will need more than a one-trick pony opening the batting. In Napier, Ghambir showed that he is a batsmen of substance and played a mature innings that helped India draw the test. How much longer will the other batsmen have to carry Sehwag? Will Sehwag talk less, and bat more? Maybe Indian fans need to be more objective in the appraisal of their cricketing heroes. Tendulkar is a role model for young cricketers all of the world, a gentlemen and an ambassador of the game. In short, he is the real deal.

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  7. So because there are better batsmen than Sehwag in the team(Sachin,Dravid etc), he becomes overrated. Weird logic. He is an entertainer and is mighty good at that. He is the most destructive and also for me, the best batsman to watch in world cricket right now..

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