Hamilton, 1st test, India’s 2nd innings, Virender Sehwag did not open the batting with Gautam Gambhir; Rahul Dravid did. The test was all but won yet Sehwag stayed back. Why?
My take is India was, for a change, thinking beyond the popular vote back home, keen to wrap a 10-wicket test win, but not lose Sehwag cheap to one of his illustrious indiscretions.
At that point, the team mgt disregarded Dravid’s terrible slump, and sent him marching to the centre – had he failed, the first innings’ fifty would’ve been diluted somewhat. Instead he got a not out, there to score some winning runs again.
Napier, 2nd test, India’s 2nd innings, Sehwag opens with Gambhir. In the 1st test, Dhoni was captain, here, Sehwag is skipper.
Had Dravid opened here, it would be after scores of 66, 8*(first test) and 83 (2nd test, 1st innings)
Compare this to Sehwag’s 24 (1st test) and 34 (2nd test)
Not just that look at the time spent in the centre: Dravid -500 minutes, that’s more than 8 hours.
Compare that to Sehwag – 80 minutes.
Also factor the balls faced by the two players: Dravid – 358 deliveries
Compare that to Sehwag - 46 deliveries
However, Sehwag opened in the 2nd test, 2nd innings – scored 22 of 21 balls in 42 minutes. (in this series, an average Sehwag innings lasts 40 minutes)
Dravid, now at the crease, has scored 11 of 33 balls in approx 30-40 minutes.
I believe, before a batsman walks on to the field, he does have a grasp on how exactly he feels about his batting.
With Sehwag here, it’s tough to tell. He had either negated the first innings shot totally, on a no-remorse trip, and to hell with all the Kiwis, I’m gonna blast them to bits.
Or, I am the captain, I must lead by example, if I do not open I will set a bad example.
Or, neither Kirsten nor MSD have suggested Dravid as opener, how can I?
Either way, Sehwag wasn’t feeling too good about himself.
Sehwag alone knows why he opened, seeing the mood he was in, he deserved to be in the nets, diffusing some of that nervous energy, slamming Balaji’s slower ones into the Pacific.
Finally, I think, it comes down to clout. MSD has it, and as captain he will make some unpopular decisions. Times it might even help Sehwag amongst others.
Sehwag though, is yet to learn how to manipulate his success. And maybe he’s just too nice a guy to ask Dravid to open instead of him.
Tomorrow on the 4th day, on the back of over 110 overs, you can expect the two spinners, Vettori and Patel to bowl a lion’s share of the overs.
That’s when India will miss its counter attacking trump.
Instead, he'll be branded as just another joker.