Some things don’t change. Most, however, do. Virender Sehwag has forever been criticised for being too eager to send every delivery crashing to the boundary, for not being a little cautious after the initial slam-bang approach, for not putting a price on his wicket.
On Friday, Sehwag did all that as he notched up yet another fifty in the DDCA Hot Weather Tournament, scoring 59 as ONGC beat FCI by seven wickets in the semifinal.
Opting to bat, FCI, spearheaded by a 106-run partnership between skipper Rajinder Bisht and Akash Malhotra, reached 210/9 in their stipulated 40 overs. However, it should have been much more.
After a good opening partnership of 46 in 8 overs, they lost three quick wickets to find themselves in a spot of bother at 62/3. It was then that Bisht and Malhotra came together and bailed their team out of trouble.
The duo kept things simple as they first consolidated, and then, launched a counterattack. With the run rate moving at 5 an over and two set batsmen in the middle, they should certainly have looked at a score of 250-plus.
But it wasn’t to be. Once Bisht was run out, the FCI batsmen lost the plot. Some tight ONGC bowling, coupled with hara-kiri batting, resulted in a total that was never going to be enough. Lanky Ishant Sharma was the pick of the bowlers, picking up 3/20 in his eight overs.
Sehwag looked in an unforgiving mood, and was expected to help ONGC race to a commanding position in no time. And he did do that, but it wasn’t the way he was expected to. After plundering 15 off the first over, he seemed to go into a shell. There was none of his trademark big hitting — he seemed determined to stay out there and play just the innings nobody expected him to.
He took cheeky singles, converted ones into twos and put away the bad ball, finally making a 57-ball 59 before being caught behind while trying to sweep.
There were two other half-centurions for ONGC, Mayank Tehlan (57) and R.S Gupta (54*). They overhauled the target in 32.3 overs to set up a final clash with Indian Airlines on Sunday.
A victory for the team and, perhaps, a personal one for Sehwag too.
FCI 210 for all out in 40 overs (Rajinder Bisht 67, Akash Malhotra 57, Ishant Sharma 3/20).
ONGC 211 for 3 in 32.3 overs (Sehwag 59, Mayank Tehlan 57, Pankaj Thankur 2/40).