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Shoulder of misfortune

It hasn’t been the best of times for Virender Sehwag. He didn’t look himself in the Indian Premier League and had to exit the World T20 without facing a ball. That notwithstanding, the absence of a brutal batsman like Sehwag would hurt a team’s chances, and the India think tank certainly know that, reports Arjun Sen.

cricket Updated: Jun 11, 2009 01:59 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
Hindustan Times

It hasn’t been the best of times for Virender Sehwag. He didn’t look himself in the Indian Premier League and had to exit the World T20 without facing a ball. That notwithstanding, the absence of a brutal batsman like Sehwag would hurt a team’s chances, and the India think tank certainly know that.

Rohit Sharma’s terrific run of form started with the IPL and has continued through to England. This undoubtedly cushioned the blow of Sehwag’s exit, but has also taken away a big name from the middle order.

In an ideal situation, Sehwag and Gambhir look to get the innings off to a fast start in the knowledge that they have the likes of Rohit, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni as back up.

While Rohit’s seamless elevation to the top has meant that he and Gambhir have got the team off to brisk starts to provide the middle-order the perfect launchpad, it would be unfair to expect the same from them everyday.

Everyone’s due a bad game, and when Rohit and Gambhir are hit with it, a middle-order, bereft of Rohit’s cool head and amazing finishing powers, will suddenly find itself in the spotlight, trying to get the innings back on track.

Dhoni, who has been batting at No.3, has not exactly exuded the kind of confidence normally associated with him. His 26 off 21 was patchy, to say the least, and almost every time he has come in, the openers have got the innings off to a good start.

Things might be different if and when the skipper has to stride out at 3/1 on the fifth ball of the innings. And it might be a similar case with Suresh Raina.

Normally, a No 3 in T20s, Raina has had to come in at No. 5 in England. He was in good touch during the IPL, coming excruciatingly close to scoring a 100, but, not blessed with the same kind of powers of finishing as Rohit, might find the going just a tad tough at No 5. Yuvraj is the only middle order batsman in great touch, but the southpaw has known to go missing in a few games.

Yusuf Pathan is undoubtedly a great T20 cricketer.

A clean hitter and a more than handy offspinner, Pathan can always be counted on to accelerate the scoring rate. However, considering that he is yet to face a ball in matches, apart from the nets, it would be a little harsh to expect him to start smashing it around from the first ball.

A lot of pressure on Rohit and Gambhir, then.

First Published: Jun 11, 2009 01:54 IST