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Sehwag’s batting will decide the result

It’s not going to get easier for Indian batsmen from now on. Australia have managed a big total. India would find it hard, even though the openers have once again given them a good start, writes Ravi Shastri.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2008 23:16 IST

It’s not going to get easier for Indian batsmen from now on. The key on Indian pitches has always been first innings scores. Australia have managed a big total. India would find it hard, even though the openers have once again given them a good start. The strip is slow but variable bounce would need constant watching.

A couple of deliveries by Brett Lee clearly suggested that the bounce is getting uneven. Lee, running in with his trademark hostility, banged one short but it passed Sehwag at ankle level. The next delivery was similar and so was the result. As the ball gets softer, the bounce will die further. Batting freely will become difficult. Nothing upsets a batsman more than the suspicion that the ball reaches him at variable height. Having said that, these are still good batting conditions.

Australia had the best of batting conditions, yet their application was eye-catching. Everyone put a premium on his wicket — even a lower-order batsman like Lee. Mike Hussey was the perfect guide, unrelenting and unwavering. His ability to adapt to different conditions is remarkable. He accumulated runs without much fuss and was helped by a rather defensive Indian field. The Australians really put pressure on Indian fielders by pushing them hard all the time.

Indian pacers — and, for a change, not spinners — were among wickets at home. One doesn't know if it's a matter to rejoice or worry about. Zaheer and Ishant now form a good pair; Sharma's two scalps in the afternoon off slower deliveries were a case in point. There wasn't much in the wicket for spinners, but one is so used to Harbhajan and Kumble running circles around batsmen that a howl is now round the corner. Both went for over 100 runs with scant returns.

Zaheer bowled superbly with the old ball and showed that he can be quite a handful once he starts to get the ball to reverse.

One can see that Australia have come prepared. They now play spin with softer hands and as late as possible. Most visiting batsmen are found wanting in India for their defensive technique against spin.

Much cricket is still left in this match. Sehwag is the man of the moment. He doesn’t hold himself back, howsoever wretched a cricket pitch be. He knows the vagaries of this strip and was thus prepared to take his chances while the ball was still new. It wouldn't get any easier for him now but Viru knows only one way to bat.

He ensured India ended the second day with a glint in their eyes. He, for me, is the key man and his form will go a long way in deciding the outcome of the series.