He has a reputation of treating opposition bowlers with disdain but India’s stand-in skipper and dashing opener Virender Sehwag today said the current Australian attack is the best he has faced as it has tested his patience like none before.
Sehwag,who is India’s captain for the fourth and final Test starting here tomorrow after MS Dhoni was banned for the team’s slow over-rate,has endured a poor run in the series which his side has lost 0-3 already.
“This is the best bowling attack I have seen,especially Australia. They are not giving easy balls to hit boundaries,they are playing with your patience,” conceded Sehwag.
Sehwag has scored just 118 runs at 19.67 with one fifty from the series and he is still searching for those boundary-balls from the Australians.
“I think they are bowling in good areas. They are not giving easy balls to hit boundaries. Generally,when I played in the past,I will get a couple of balls in early overs to hit boundaries but against this attack,I hardly get balls to hit,” he said.
Peter Siddle (17 at 19.58) and Ben Hilfenhaus (23 at 16.00) have invariably got the better of Sehwag in the series and the Indian opener is now inclined to rely on patience to get himself back in the groove.
“I think I have to show some patience. If I show patience,I will get some balls to hit for boundaries. It’s a challenge,it’s a great bowling attack and everyone is looking forward to do well against them.
“I am looking forward to do well for whenever you do well against Australia,everyone praises and appreciates your performance,” said Sehwag.
As an opener,Sehwag,along with his partner Gautam Gambhir,hasn’t given India any start better than 24 in this series.
“It’s not only the opening. All the batsmen didn’t score runs. When you go abroad and score 300-400 runs,your bowlers come in the game and try to get the other team out,” Sehwag said.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to score runs,especially outside India. Unfortunately,on the last two tours,the batsmen didn’t score runs.
“Yes,it’s important for openers to give good start but sometimes they don’t. It’s the responsibility of others batsmen to go and score. As a batting unit,we haven’t done well. Hopefully,we would do it here,” he added.
Sehwag said he could consider going back into the middle order once there is a vacancy in the future.
“Not (in the middle order) in this game. We have a very good middle order. It’s only when they retire,then I would think about it.
“It also depends on what’s the combination and who’s the captain and who’s going to retire. That’s also important.”
Sehwag supported the under-fire VVS Laxman and termed any decision to retire completely in the hands of the seniors.
“It’s their decision. They would take the call. Nobody is discussing it in the dressing room. As for VVS Laxman,he’s looking forward to it,he’s up for it. He’s concentrating hard,practising hard and also extra (nets).
“I am sure the player that he is,he would perform well in Adelaide. Australia is his favourite team and he has scored a lot of hundreds against them. I am sure he would do well.”
Though Sehwag began as a middle-order bat in India’s Test line-up in 2001,majority of his 8098 runs have come as an opener — 7719 runs to be precise.
But for his debut century at number six against South Africa in Bloemfontein in 2001,the rest of his 22 hundreds have come as an opener.
Sehwag’s advent coincided with India’s upward graph on foreign pitches but the last two tours of England and Australia appear to have destroyed the trend.
“We have done well overseas in the last 10 years. Suddenly,in the last two tours,we have not lived up to expectations. But we are working hard and trying and doing everything we can,” he said.
“Sometimes things are not in your control even if you try to give your best. Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s part of life,part of game,” he added.
Sehwag said he is presently concentrating on doing well in the final Test as a batsman and captain and long-term leadership isn’t occupying his mind at the moment.
“I have been captain of India on a couple of occasions. It’s good to be captain of Team India and it’s a real honour. I don’t think there is any pressure of captaincy. Against West Indies recently,I captained and scored a double hundred.
“As a senior player,you go out there and handle the team and as a batsman you go out and perform better. hopefully I would do well in this game too. I am just concentrating on this Test. (Long-term captaincy) is not in my hands. It’s the job of selectors and BCCI.”
Sehwag couldn’t really put his fingers on why the team was not batting well for the second straight tour abroad.
“In 2008-09,everyone scored runs. From top order to middle order. Everyone’s time is not good now. As a team at least 2-3 batsmen have to do well and score centuries. I’m a great believer that the time is not good. We do have meetings and discussions (on how to improve) but I can’t share that with you.”
“I wouldn’t change my style only because I am the captain. As for any advice (to the rest of the team),they are all well-experienced. They know what to do and I’m sure they are up for this game,” Sehwag said.
Sehwag believed the sight of Adelaide Oval is sure to perk up himself and the rest of his batting mates.
“Everyone wants to bat first here. But stats show whoever bats second wins the Test. Still,I am looking to bat first. Tomorrow is a different day,different game,different tour. Last time when we came,I didn’t play the first two games.
“I was out of the team for sometime and fighting for my place. But now it’s a different situation. It’s good to play in Adelaide. When you have scored a hundred on previous tour,you look forward to go out and play there,” he said.
“We are focusing on this Test,we are looking forward,everyone is looking forward to Adelaide because it’s favourite wicket is good to bat on. We have a great memory of this venue because we won here in 2003-04,” he added.
Sehwag gave enough indications that India could go in with two spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha — in this Test.
“If it’s dry enough and we feel there is help for spinners,definitely we would go in with two spinners.”
The Delhi player believed pride would be the motivating factor for his team to do well in Adelaide.
“I think it’s an opportunity for everyone to play in Adelaide. We lost the series but there is pride for Team India. When we go out,we would play for our pride and pay for ourselves to improve our performance. Hopefully,we would do it,” he said.