Thursday, April 22, 2010

Viru and the World Cup

The news that Viru Sehwag has a busted shoulder has provoked some expected teeth gnashing - both over his absence and his replacement. Now, I love the thought of watching Sehwag bat, but I have to confess that when it came to the T20 WC I had not managed to generate the kinds of great expectations which would experience this news as harbinger of an apocalypse. Part of this display of sangfroid on my part finds its grounding in the knowledge that Sehwag does not do very well in one-day internationals or T20s (I'm hard pressed to think of a single significant innings), and yet another part in the related awareness that I don't associate him with a winning campaign in a tournament. (In this arena, at least, I would consider Dhoni's absence a far more significant blow).

I've slowly become convinced over the years that the problem with Sehwag in the limited versions of the game is that he prefers to be the one with the initiative, the one that imparts a jolt to the proceedings, and then, having pushed the opposition on to the pyschological defensive, is able to take over and dominate. It is a strategy that works in test cricket. It does not in limited-overs cricket, for there, bowlers and captains alike expect punishment and do not get fazed (or perhaps not as much as Viru would like them to). I have to admit though, that given the genius of this man, there is something slightly unsatisfactory about this explanation. Why is he unable to change, to adjust, to reconfigure, when he can do so in test cricket? Be that as it may, I cannot remember a single ODI or T20 innings by him, and indeed, cannot even a remember a moment from an ODI or a T20 which features Viru in his glory.

As for India's campaign in the T20 WC, more on that later. But I'm afraid the IPL does create the expectation that India should win. This isn't entirely a fair expectation given the brevity of the game but it is out there nonetheless. But the incumbents of the T20 team, in their appearances in the IPL, haven't exactly managed to bowl us over. (At least a few like Yusuf Pathan and Ishant Sharma have looked like duds). Heartbreak might still be around the corner.

If there is, we should be glad it will be over quickly. The T20 WC is compact and concise. It should serve as a model for the "other" World Cup.

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Blogger Thiru Cumaran said...

Samir, I remember Viru once clarifying why he was more successful in Tests than in Limited-Overs cricket.

He said that, in Tests, he has time to get in, to have a look at how the pitch is behaving and all that before he goes on the attack.

He expressed a distaste of having to attack from the first ball. Instead, he likes to get his eye in before attacking! :)

However, M. Vijay's inclusion is a good one. Just sifting through the comments on Cricinfo on the article mentioning Vijay as a replacement, I noticed that a large proportion of the comments were praising Vijay's selection (not saying rubbish like "He was selected because Cheeka is the chairman of selectors). Hope he grabs this chance with both hands and establishes himself as the reserve opener for all 3 forms! :)

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Viru had earned enough dollars from IPL thats why he does not need to play in the world cup.

Its a shame, I firmly believe that, ICC should have some control of IPL. When there is so much money, glamour, and hype, you can not allow some individuals to control the whole international cricket. I don't know, when ICC will wake up and decide to do something about it. I hope it happens before its too late to save international cricket.

I have read the following post, & hope you will find answers to many questions:

Is Lalit Mody Corrupt?

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Satish said...

The absence of Sehwag is NOT a big blow. I think that in T20, a pace bowler who can bowl yorkers consistently or a spinner who bowls slower in the air, are the only people who'd be missed.

Sehwag has a simple and uncomplicated game. You know, Sehwag says in interviews: 'I see the ball and if it's in my zone, I hit it.' He never says _how_ he goes about doing that. I believe he doesn't even think about it (brain is not the part that's gonna wield a bat and hit the ball ;-).

I learnt about this in Tim Galloway's book `The Inner Game of Tennis' ( on another context (Alan Kay's UI design presentation).

The reason why he's been more successful in test cricket is that, test cricket is a much simpler format.
There are no obligations for the batsman to score at a quicker pace. I think that frees his mind. And that makes him play like he does and we love watching him bat.

Of course, I maybe exaggerating a bit. :-)

9:49 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Thiru: Good points. I wonder how Sehgwag would do as a middle-order in ODIs.

As for Vijay, I have high hopes for him in all formats of the game too.

Anon: I think Sehwag would have loved to have been part of a winning WC team, surely?

Satish: Agree with part of your analysis (and thanks for the links) - the bit about batters having more space to express themselves in tests.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Thiru Cumaran said...

Samir, I'm sure you know that Viru was initially a middle-order batsman when he first broke into the side.

Recently, I remember him saying, after a big innings he played (I think it was the 293 against SL @ the Brabourne) , that he'd love to go back to the middle order if the captain allowed him to!

Like you said, it's worth a try. He might actually like it! :)

9:03 PM  
Blogger Mahek said...

While I agree the IPL leads people to expect India will do well, I don't think that should be the case. If I were to draw a parallel, the English think they're a good bet to win the Euro and the World Cup every time and don't even come close to winning. Their expectations are based on watching the most lucrative football league in the world. Similarly, Americans think they're favourites to win the World Baseball Classic (I'm guessing you know about it since you're aware of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry) but they haven't made the final of the triennial tournament in either of the WBC editions.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Subash said...

i think in ODIs and T20's, the art of opening the batting is the same. The first 4-5 overs, the bowlers usually have some say and you have more catchers within the circle. The need for sehwag (according to him anyway) to go full bore from the get go, does not pan out often. But i think if he were to come lower down the order in ODI and T20, that would be a fantastic move. We could have Vijay & GG open, Raina, Dhoni, Viru and then RGS or Yuvi. Its the bowling dept that threadbare. Besides Zak, we can't put one decent t20 pace bowler out there. Bhajj/Ojha shd do well in WI.

2:14 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Thiru: Yes, definitely, that is how Sehwag started for Delhi. And of course, that is where he made his debut and scored a ton (in tests).

Mahek: Does the EPL impose quotas on imports? I would tend to think that given the quota on imports a larger pool of Indian talent would get developed in T20 because of the IPL.

Subhash: I'm still surprised he doesn't seem to get it together.

8:32 AM  
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4:23 AM  
Blogger कर्ण-गाथा said...

"I cannot remember a single ODI or T20 innings by him, and indeed, cannot even a remember a moment from an ODI or a T20 which features Viru in his glory"

I guess you haven't seen his ton against the kiwis in early 2009, think that was the fastest by an Indian...

8:23 AM  

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