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'I treat new balls with respect'

Virender Sehwag talks to Atreyo Mukhopadhyay about the changes he?s made in his batting style.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2006 15:58 IST

Cricket is a great leveller. Less than a year ago, Virender Sehwag was expected to score big hundreds each time he went out to bat in a Test match and now with the runs drying up, there are whispers that his place in the side should be scrutinised.

The team management has nevertheless shown enough faith and persisted with him even at a time when he was not getting much right. The batsman repaid that faith to an extent by playing two 90-plus knocks in the ODI series against the West Indies.

Sehwag says despite all the talk about his lack of form, he is not short on confidence after those innings in the one-dayers. But he admits he is trying to change certain things in his batting. The following are excerpts from his chat with Atreyo Mukhopadhyay before the second Test:

Do you feel any differe nt when you go out to bat these days?

I am not feeling any different. The only change I have made is that I am not playing too many shots against the new ball and treating it with more respect.

In Test matches, if you survive the new ball, then the session between lunch and tea is comparatively easier. So my aim now is to spend more time at the wicket and see off the new ball. But there has been no change in my mindset, I am as positive as I was.

What kind of technical changes or adjustments have you made in recent times and what do you have to say about your weakness against short-pitched balls?

I have made a few corrections. My backlift was coming from point, my head was falling and these small things can make a lot of difference. I worked hard on these aspects. As for short balls, I don't think I have ever been dismissed by such deliveries outside India. In India, I was undone by it a few times, because while playing there you don't expect the ball to bounce as much as it did on those occasions. I have played in Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and never got out to a short-pitched ball.

Given that you have not had a great run with the bat in recent times, how are you coping with it?

I have done well in the past and that gives me a lot of confidence. Then, the 90-plus knocks in the one-dayers were also huge morale-boosters. I also speak to (Sunil) Gavaskar, (Krishnamachari) Srikkanth and (Sachin) Tendulkar and when you go to them with certain problems, they always suggest you the solutions. When people like them say that you are a good player, have done well in the past and can do so in the future, it means a lot. Before coming here Gavaskar and Sachin told me the wickets in the West Indies are good and I will definitely get runs.

You have said in the past that you prefer batting in the middle-order. What's your take on that now?

I still prefer batting in the middle-order, but the team is playing with a certain combination and I don't want to disturb it. If I start batting deeper another opener will come and there is no guarantee we will get a good start. I have some experience of opening and don't want to change my position now. But when Rahul (Dravid), Sachin or (VVS) Laxman retire and I become a senior batsman, I will think about batting in the middle-order.

How has the session with Rudi Webster helped?

I would say my mind has become refreshed. He suggested how to overcome tiredness, how to improve stamina, how to focus on one ball at a time. If I get a chance to meet him in the future, I surely will. He said I could divide my career in two halves. I am in the second half now, the start of which is difficult. I am a senior player now and have a lot of responsibilities as vice-captain of the team.

First Published: Jun 11, 2006 02:03 IST