The dusty, unmetalled road to the Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium can be tricky for bikers. Even then, several of them took the risk to watch Virender Sehwag in action.
It was the India opener’s first outing in a competitive game after the England Test series and the effort was meant to test his injured shoulder, which ruled him out of the subsequent one-dayers.
And it came full of surprises.The conspicuous belly was ironed out and Sehwag looked younger than what he looked a couple of months back.
The bat failed to do the trick even against an unfancied Jammu and Kashmir. He made just one off two deliveries, one of which got him caught behind off a drive.
But his arm, still troubled by the shoulder injury, did get him some reward earlier in the morning. He got two wickets in two overs, helping restrict the Bishan Bedi-coached side to 122.
At the end of it, Sehwag was a satisfied man.
“I am feeling much better,” he said. “This game helped me test my fitness. I can bat and bowl as well. There is not much problem.” But he added: “I am still having problem while throwing the ball (from the deep).” That'll mean some more time in rehab. “I am doing my (strengthening) exercises and following the fitness routine.” He doesn’t seem to be in a rush. He won't be there for Saturday's zonal T20 game against Punjab. “No, I won't play tomorrow but I am looking to get back to action soon.”
He'll get more chances in this tournament.
Delhi play Haryana on Monday and against Services on Tuesday and he might pick one of those two games.
Target: WI series
Sehwag has his eyes set on the West Indies series. That, incidentally, will be India's first Test series following the humiliation in England. India need to do well to heal some of those wounds. “My target is to get fit for the West Indies Test series (starting at his home ground in Delhi on November 6). I am preparing for it.”
However, he added a rider. “But before that I need to undergo a fitness test. I'll play only if I feel fit and fine.”
Unfortunately, he might not get match practice for days' cricket before the first Test. The Ranji Trophy begins on Nov 3 and its first game will end only on Nov 6, the date the first Test begins. The T20 games here may offer the only real match practice for him before the WI Tests.