Virender Sehwag can’t resist playing a few shots, whether it is on the field or when he addresses the media. The day before the second ODI, Sehwag explained the method to the madness. “I am very happy with my innings in Napier (77 off 56 deliveries),” Sehwag said. “The way I batted in the Twenty20 games, I realised that if I stay in the middle for 10-15 overs, we will be in a good position to get a big score. I knew the conditions very well, I am pretty happy with my form.
“When I was growing up, I played a lot of 10 and 15-over cricket. In a 10-over match, you have to score off all 60 deliveries. That’s why my mindset is what it is - try and score off every ball. But it’s changing now. You must have seen in the last game, I left the first ball very well outside off-stump.”
Sehwag also said that if the team got good starts no total was beyond them. “If we don’t lose wickets early, we can easily score 300 in every game. The new ball is important for us. In the last game, we scored 273 off 38 overs, we could have gone on to make 350-360 if it had been a 50-over game. Batting is our strength; if we can see off the new ball, then we invariably manage totals of 280-300 at least.”
The team’s strategy of keeping the opposition guessing by changing the batting order around would continue, Sehwag said. “It’s good for the team, all batsmen get more opportunities to score. Sometimes, if you are going by rhythm, it’s not good for the team. We did that when we chased and won 16 consecutive games. Each time, the number three was different — Irfan, Dhoni, or somebody else.
“New Zealand were surprised when MS came to bat at three in the last match. They didn’t know what to do,” he said, with a twinkle. “They thought maybe he had come to hit out, but he played sensibly and batted through the overs.”