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Sehwag keen to score more big tons

india Updated: Jun 20, 2006 15:02 IST
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He has made several big hundreds in international cricket but Virender Sehwag says in all modesty that he cannot be considered in the same category as Sunil Gavaskar whom he would like to emulate.

Sehwag, whose last eight centuries have been scores in excess of 150 runs including the record triple century in Multan, says he knows he has to keep on collecing big hundreds before he can be talked in the same breath as Gavaskar.

"I don't think at this stage of my career I can be talked of in the same manner as a Sunil Gavaskar or a Vijay Merchant. One of the things which distinguishes the greats from the ordinary ones is that they don't give up after posting a century," the dashing opener said in an interview.

This criteria alone should qualify Sehwag, who has 3,786 runs from 46 Tests at an average of 51.86, as already one of the game's greats.

"When I was out after 100 in Trent Bridge (in 2002) and earlier in South Africa, I realised if I had kept going, the team would have been in good position.

"If I have to be a great player, I will have to make big hundreds. If you get out before a century, then it is okay. But once you cross the three figures, it's your best chance to make an even bigger score for the bowling side is looking to contain you rather than get you out. It becomes easy for batsmen."

As far as the current Test series against the West Indies is concerned, Sehwag has set a modest goal of scoring two hundreds.

"My goals are from series to series. It is not possible to think 10 years ahead. For the present series in the Caribbean, it was one century in one-dayers and two in Tests," said Sehwag after the team took its first nets in five days on Monday.

Sehwag has whipped up a storm of interest in the Caribbean with an outstanding 180 in the second Test in St Lucia and his two 90s in the preceding one-day series would suggest he is well on his way to meeting his goals.

Humility and self-belief are the essence of Sehwag's batting. A simple yet commonsensical approach to his batting prevented him from seeking advice from all and sundry during his dark days.

"You have your moments of doubt when you struggle. But I always get motivated by criticism. You actually improve when there is criticism. Your dedication also gets a leg up.

"I only take that much of advice which fits into my batting. If it doesn't, then I don't bother about it.

"For example, Gavaskar told me early during the one-day series against England that if I stood on my off-stump, incoming deliveries would not trouble me as much. It really helped even though there wasn't a big score in Goa.

"When I speak to Tendulkar, he does not speak on technical issues. He says if only I spent time at the wicket, without worrying about runs, wickets or balls, if I concentrate on playing 50 or 100 balls, then my body will start reacting to deliveries on its own."

Sehwag also does not duck the question when it comes to doubts on his ability to handle deliveries directed at his ribs.

"Sometimes you can't do anything when a ball comes on to your body but it doesn't happen everyday. I don't think it is a problem outside India. On good bouncy tracks, the ball bounces and goes above your head. But in India, or on a track such as St Lucia's, you can't decide whether to face it or leave it. By then the ball hits your bat and spoons up for a catch."

And when it comes to facing up to the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee; Muthiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, he has his own way of doing it.

It's a challenge to score runs against them. Shoaib is very fast and doesn't give you enough time. Lee's outswing at that pace is lethal. Not much needs to be said about a Warne or a Murali.

"But when I face up to great bowlers, I try to put fear in their heart. If he knows that this batsman can hit me for a four or six, your task becomes easier. If you can't do that to a great bowler, he would soon be all over you."

Sehwag has also now made a minor adjustment to his approach in one-dayers where he had been failing to make big scores.

"In one-dayers I have realised that normally my strike-rate is 100 per cent. Hence I should not worry about my strike-rate. If I can bat for 30 or 40 overs, then it's a help for my team.

"I am now working to stay at the crease for 30 or 40 overs. Automatically the run-rate would be five runs per over and my team would be in a position of advantage."

Being in international cricket for five years, Sehwag has now assigned himself a task as far as juniors are concerned.

"When I was starting in 1999, there were not many advices coming my way. I now try to tell youngsters not to throw their wickets and stay till the end.

"I take delight in their good performances. Team is like a family. If you are not happy with a fellow player's success, then you are not a family member. Then even your performance will start going down. Young players should get as much credit as some other players get it," he said.