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Most Wanted: Viru on everyone's radar

How crucial a role Virender Sehwag will play in Durban can't be stated enough. Having lost at Centurion, India desperately need him to come up with his aggressive and big knocks to level the series, writes Subhash Rajta. Star attack

cricket Updated: Dec 24, 2010 00:37 IST
Subhash Rajta

How crucial a role Virender Sehwag will play in Durban can't be stated enough. Having lost at Centurion, India desperately need him to come up with his aggressive and big knocks to level the series.

"If we manage to knock him over early, it gives us a chance to have a go at the middle order with a relatively hard ball. He takes the attack to the opposition with his aggressive stroke-play and also takes pressure off other batsmen," said Graeme Smith.

The point the South Africa skipper made was well illustrated in Centurion. The other batsmen looked far more comfortable against the South African attack when Sehwag got some quick runs in the second innings.

Apart from boosting the side's morale, a quick start, even a crisp 30 or 40, blunts the opposition's attack. "It's a very nice feeling to get him out early. He is the danger man who comes hard at you," said Morne Morkel.

The South Africans, as they showed in the first innings at Centurion, where they had him caught at third man, will have their plans ready, though. With the wicket likely to have good pace, bounce and swing, the hosts will again play on his patience and try to force a false stroke early on.

"He's a naturally aggressive batsman and gives bowlers a chance. It's for him and the team to decide what kind of role he's to play, but sometimes you do need to knuckle down a bit," said Smith. Whether Sehwag takes Smith's advice is something time will tell, but his teammates want the opener to be himself. "He plays in his own way. That's how he gets triple and double hundreds. He shouldn't change his game," said Gautam Gambhir.

While Sehwag will do what he does, the other batsman will need to apply themselves better as the conditions will again favour the bowlers.

"We let ourselves down a bit in the first innings in Centurion, but we have six top quality batsmen who can deliver the goods," said India coach Gary Kirsten.

Zaheer fit: Kirsten
The coach confirmed that Zaheer Khan was fit for the second Test. "He's fit and it's indeed a big boost to our bowling," he said, as India hit the nets after a two-day break.