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Viru’s love affair with Kiwis goes on

It's been almost nine years since Virender Sehwag established himself as a lethal opening batsman. Though his form has varied, there has been one constant - his dominance over the Kiwi bowlers, especially in one-dayers, reports Amol Karhadkar. Vital stats

cricket Updated: Aug 27, 2010 00:33 IST
Amol Karhadkar

It's been almost nine years since Virender Sehwag established himself as a lethal opening batsman. Though his form has varied, there has been one constant - his dominance over the Kiwi bowlers, especially in one-dayers.

The New Zealand bowling attack has been for Sehwag what India's bowlers were for Sanath Jayasuriya.

When India faced the Kiwis in a battle of survival on Wednesday, if there was one man who could catapult the struggling batting into the final, it was Sehwag.

The 31-year-old lived up to his reputation by slamming his sixth ODI century against the Kiwis to set up India's victory with over-a run-a-ball 110.

If his unbeaten 99 against Sri Lanka earlier on was sedate by his standards, Wednesday's knock was a flurry of boundaries to all corners of the park and off all the bowlers.

Once Sehwag gets going, as he did in the fifth over after getting his eye in, most captains have run out of plans. Ross Taylor, who was leading the side in the absence of Daniel Vettori, joined the unfortunate bunch of captains to be struck by the Sehwag syndrome.

"He is a world-class player. We have got plans and things in place and we just got to stick to them as much as possible," said Taylor.

"But when he is in that type of form, you try and pick him up early and we didn't do that and then he got away on us."

Almost half off Sehwag's 13 international centuries have been scored against New Zealand. More importantly, only once in the previous 12 occasions have India lost despite Sehwag scoring a century.

So, once the Delhi dazzler dashed for a single and raised his bat, India were almost assured of a victory.

What was astonishing was the ease with which he handled the pressure with very little support from the other end.

Despite the experienced Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and the young brigade submitting meekly, Sehwag, with his effortless stroke-play, did not let the Kiwi bowlers dominate proceedings.

"Since I was in form, I thought I'd score more than the others," said Sehwag. "If I took more strike, there was less chance of the others getting out. I was just planning to hit it whenever I saw a loose ball or just rotate the strike. I did the same and played my shots after the first 10 overs or so," he said.

If the opener has an off day in the final against Sri Lanka on Saturday, it could be the end of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's spotless record on the Emerald Isles.