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SMS from coach does the trick for Sehwag

It took an SMS from his coach for swashbuckling Virender Sehwag to change his batting stance and the result was a buccaneering 195 on Friday.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2003 15:04 IST

It took an SMS from his coach for swashbuckling Virender Sehwag to change his batting stance and the result was a buccaneering 195 on Friday, the opening day of the third Test against Australia at Melbourne.

It boosted his career average to 46.10.

The 25-year-old, playing his 19th Test, scored his career-best 195 (312 minutes, 233 balls, 24x4s, 5x6s) and added a priceless 141 runs with Akash Chopra (47) for the opening wicket to give India a flying start at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

India, currently leading 1-0 in the four-Test series, are eyeing their first ever Test series win in Australia since the two countries first met in 1947.

India finished the day at 329 for four wickets, with captain Sourav Ganguly batting on 20 and V V S Laxman on six.

"Did you notice Veeru's (Sehwag's nickname) stance today? It was one of the main reasons for his brilliant innings," said Amar Nath Sharma, Sehwag's coach since his school days.

"I had sent him an SMS after the victory at Adelaide, saying that he should take a two-leg stance (between the leg and middle stumps) which would give him more room to play strokes," Sharma told IANS.

Sharma said he had sent the SMS after he saw Sehwag taking the leg-stump stance in earlier matches, which exposes all three stumps to the bowler.

The two-leg stance, between the leg and middle stumps, entails a batsman to move a few inches on the off side, giving him a better idea of his off-side deliveries.

"I watched the live telecast when he reached his 80s, and I noticed the changed stance helped him play his strokes better," he said. "It also gave him more control playing his strokes on the off side."

Sharma also felt Sehwag's overall approach to batting is changing with the right-hander becoming more and more patient before unleashing his rich repertoire of strokes.

"He controlled himself and it is another main reason why he is getting better as a batsman," he added.

Sehwag reached his 50 off 78 balls in 114 minutes and his fifth Test century with a boundary off 144 balls in 201 minutes, but significantly off just 38 scoring strokes, or the balls off which he scored runs.

Sehwag, whose previous highest Test score was 147, reached his career's first 150 off 200 balls in 263 minutes.

Despite the "control" his coach feels he is developing, Sehwag bludgeoned Australian attack - sans an injured Glenn McGrath - for 89 runs in the second session between the lunch and tea intervals.

Sehwag, however, got two lives when he was dropped at 66 and 77 but, as it turned out, the reprieves had little effect on "Najafgarh's Tendulkar", as Sehwag is often called for his many similarities with maestro Sachin Tendulkar.

But his innate impulsiveness yet again brought Sehwag's downfall when he tried to score a second successive six off part-timer left-arm spinner Simon Katich and failed to connect properly, Nathan Bracken accepting the offering.

Sharma, who was keeping his "fingers crossed" in anticipation of a double century, was disappointed but feels Sehwag has the calibre to score double centuries.

"Not only in Test cricket, he has the calibre to hit double centuries in one-dayers," he said of the shorter version of cricket in which Sehwag has a highest of 130 in 77 matches at 34.65.

Friday's innings has helped Sehwag, who has scores of 45, 0, 47, 47 and 195 in this series, boost his career average to 46.10.

Another interesting statistic of Sehwag's two-year career is that his average has only once gone below 40, but never below 39, which was after the first Test against New Zealand at Ahmedabad in October.

But he scored a scintillating 130 in the next innings, in the second Test against the Kiwis at Mohali, took it to 43.67.

First Published: Dec 26, 2003 15:04 IST