Wasim Akram did not make it to the Kotla because of a viral attack, and before the start there was an anxious wait for the match officials to arrive for the toss. Apparently, they were caught in a traffic jam near the Kotla and had to get out of their cars and run the last stretch to make it in time. Said an out-of- breath commentator, "A bit traumatic but the good thing is we are still fit."
Against the Knight Riders, Sehwag and Warner were reunited as openers. The two are unique yet similar in many ways. The bowlers fear them, knowing both will not spare even the good deliveries. The two belong to the see-ball-hit-shot school of batting and are not known to waste time at the crease.
Not just their batting, even their bats are similar. Viru plays with a customised SG with a VS 319 sticker at the back to mark his highest Test score. He is fussy about the balance and pick-up, and the two-pound 7 willow has a chunky bottom. Viru holds the bat low down, like Tendulkar, almost near the shoulder and uses a thickish grip. On slow wickets, he occasionally changes the bat, opting for a slightly heavier one to force the pace.
Warner's weapon is not much different, except the two-pound 7 weight is more evenly spread out. What is striking about his Gray Nicolls "kaboom" is the bat handle, so thin it is almost a stick. "I have very small hands," he explained, "so anything else would be a problem to grip."
For Warner, the last season has been remarkable, a spectacular shift from a 20-over specialist to a dependable Test batsman. He has successfully rebooted his game, adjusted to the challenges of five-day cricket and learnt the art of being patient. "I'm willing to wait; stretches of quiet batting do not bother me because I know I can speed up later."
Contrary to popular view, he feels Tests have helped him become a better T20 batsman. "Once you get your foot close to the ball, as you have to in Tests, your options to attack increase."
The writer is a Delhi Daredevils official