Special Sehwag mauls Lanka
by Rohit Sakunia

Scorecard:India v Sri Lanka
Player:V Sehwag, M Vijay, RS Dravid
Event:Sri Lanka in India 2009/10

DateLine: 3rd December 2009


It was only disappointment in store for the Lankans after at one point post having 392 on the board, their skipper might have felt they stand a good chance in the game. But some of them might also call them privileged as they stood testimonial to probably one of the best knocks ever played in the history of the game. Sehwag ravaged the Lankan attack and send the ball packing to all the corners of Brabourne. On a pitch which seemed to threaten the Indian batting, he made weilding the willow look easier than eating a thick chocolate filled black forest cake.


The Sultan of Multan toyed with the Lankan bowling and all the bowlers including the great Muttiah Muralitharan looked no better than club bowlers, probably even worse. The pitch still had the bounce and the turn of yesterday but the difference was a rampaging Sehwag. Such was his audacity with the willow that he crossed his own record of the fastest 250. No one would have thought of India taking a lead at the end of Day Two but with Sehwag around that looked as if it was destined to happen.


India finished the day on 443 and had nine wickets intact and judging by the nature of the pitch, this match has to have a winner and the way India have batted, it seems Lanka can only play for a draw now on.


Earlier in the day, it did not take a lot out of the Indian bowling and fielding to skittle out the last two Lankan wickets. Just 27 were added and Sri Lanka finished of at a respectable 393. The story of the morning was Angelo Matthews getting run-out at 99. He challenged Sachin Tendulkar's throw from the boundary and the little man proved once again why even at 36, his arms and ability from the outfield are probably the best in this Indian Test XI.


But India's day started after the Lankans got out. In a repeat show of Kanpur, sans Gautam Gambhir, Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Murali Vijay blew up the Lankan attack. The way right-hander Vijay played, Gambhir wasn't missed at all. Like Gambhir in Kanpur, it was Vijay who took the onus on himself to score initially as Sehwag was in his shell for the first 20 odd minutes. Then the dynamite exploded and it was a serious explosion.


The only chance the openers gave was a difficult one to Herath who dropped it at mid-on. Sehwag showed his wrath on every bowler, Herath being his favourite. The left-arm spinner who was brought ahead of his senior spin partner Muttiah Muralitharan, was hit for a six in his first over by Sehwag, then Vijay took a four in his second over, and Sehwag also blasted him for a six later in the spell. Such was the Sehwag carnage that he took 45 off the 30 balls he faced from Herath, hitting him for four sixes, and the moment the bowler went over the wicket, Viru welcomed him by reverse-sweeping right away.


It couldn't have been worse for Murali though. The champion off-spinner already had admitted before the game that his bowling is not the same as it was 2-3 years back. Seeing Harbhajan get the bite off the track yesterday would have given him some hope but nothing changed. Out of the four specialist bowlers that the visitors had, Murali was the last to be brought into the attack, in the last over before lunch. By the time he bowled his first ball, Sehwag had reached his fifty, and India were comfortably cruising at 85 in 17 overs. The field given to him showed how much confidence remains in his bowling. There was a long-on and a pretty deep mid-off. He bowled 10 overs in succession but not even on one occasion looked the Murali most know.


Runs continued to come and the rate always kept increasing. By the time Murali came on to bowl his 9th, Sehwag had totalled 110 off 107 deliveries and Vijay 83, India having taken India 198 in 36 overs at a run-rate of 5 and a half.


Everything was being read and sometimes the bowlers were making it easy. Most of the doosra's that Murali bowled were either short and were cut away with disdain or he bowled them a lot fuller, pretty easy for both the batsmen to drive. His figures after 9 read 9-0-56-0, and his expression after taking his cap said the story of a bowler who is better known to terrorise batting legends on a surface like this.


Finally after hitting twenty-six fours and six sixes in only 39.1 overs in the 221-run opening stand, Vijay got out to a suicidal shot. He missed a full-pitched carrom ball from Rangana Herath and was plumb in front leaving the umpire no scope to save him. Sehwag on the other hand went on to notch another biggie. After his 100 he marched to his 150, the last 50 coming of only 30 deliveries.


The run-feast continued post tea as Sehwag though not in his usual flamboyant self because of a back-injury, still maintained the carnage act. Dravid joined him and Muralitharan continued to be the victim. Dravid drove and cut him for a couple of boundaries and after that he started to go around the wicket and kind of understood that the only way he could stay away from going for runs was by keeping the ball away from the batsmen.


Then a little while later came his 200. The way he brought it up was a Sehwag special. He was 185 when the over started and 6 ball later, he was taller and richer with his 6th double hundred. Sehwag and Dravid continued to scale milestones. First came the 300, then the 350 and at 372, the duo completed their 150 run-stand, Dravid's contribution being only a little over 40 and then they completed 200 together, Dravid in this 50 scaled another 10 to reach his 50. Sehwag's contribution at this stage session by session was 53, 98 and 83, the second two coming at a much faster pace then the first. Sooner he reached his 250, the stroke that brought it up was another one of the delightful ones.


The duo finished the day unbeaten and the visitors looked hapless in whatever they did. India finished the day with an overall lead of 51 runs.