Virender Sehwag can make Viv Richards look ordinary
When Pakistan made it to the final of the 1991-92 World Cup final, I described them as a skilled rabble. I don't know if it was the tension of such an important series against India or just exuberance, but in the early overs of the Samsung Cup the Pakistan rabble returned.
Nerves are a strange thing in sport; colourful US golfer Lee Trevino once said, "We all leak oil. It's just that some players stem the flow better than others."
Early on the Pakistan bowlers failed to cope with the big occasion and what resulted was a parade of no-balls, wides and hittable deliveries. Never one to be overawed Virender Sehwag, a cool dude from the Delhi suburbs, fed sumptuously on this average fattening diet.
Sehwag is the type of batsman who, when he's on the rampage, could make Viv Richards look like a blocker as he smashed cuts and drives to all parts. On this occasion it was Sourav Ganguly who played second fiddle while Sehwag belted out a tune on the Pakistani bowling and it was only an abundance of adrenalin that brought about his downfall.
His critics will say he sacrifices his wicket too often when he's playing well but his all-out attack style can be so destructive that a captain has to accept his indiscretions with the same equanimity as his successes.
Delivering a lot of the wayward stuff that Sehwag fed off was Shoaib Akhtar who before the game professed to be ambivalent about all the hype of India versus Pakistan. "I have been counting the days to this series, 30, 29, 28," Shoaib said, 'this is an opportunity for me to be Superman."
Well on this occasion it was Sehwag who had the kryptonite in his pocket. And even when he bowled Sehwag kept his cool to shrewdly deceive the dangerous Yousuf Youhana.
However, Pakistan had their own version of the cool dude at the crease in their skipper Inzamam ul-Haq.
The burly belter pounded the bowling and ran twos as though he was an Olympic sprinter, albeit one running in the repechage heats, without ever losing his way. In the end his brave chase ended more through exhaustion than any brilliant bowling but throughout his innings he was calmly methodical as he tried to hunt down India's huge total.
On a day where emotions got the better of players early on it was ironic that it should end with Ashish Nehra bowling a nerveless final over to clinch victory for India.
However, he couldn't have done it without some help from Pakistan; the thirty extra deliveries (20 no-balls and 10 wides) compared with India's nine made the difference. That was when Pakistan played like a rabble.
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