We can spin a magic web

Published on Sep 26, 2002 02:00 PM IST

Don't you wish you were in Najafgarh on Wednesday night? There'll be a party there. But then, all of India will be partying.

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PTI | ByJaideep Ghosh, New Delhi

Don't you wish you were in Najafgarh on Wednesday night? There'll be a party there. But then, all of India will be partying.

Najafgarh is where Virender Sehwag comes from, and India is richer by millions for that.

Veeru, as he is known, was probably the best person to bowl when the chips were down. Once India got into a position where they had a sniff of a chance, they needed a cool head, and there seems to be few cooler ones in the team than Sehwag.

While he was not first choice as the fifth bowler - Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar were used ahead of him - he sent down a spell that turned the match decisively in India's favour.

Sehwag's magic had begun earlier in the series, beginning with a score of 48 against Zimbabwe in the first match of the series, which, considering that India won by just 14 runs, was vital.

Then came that rollicking 126 against England, which was amazing in its sheer speed and power, when a pretty big target was made to look pedestrian.

And then, came this magic evening, when Sehwag's innocuous off-breaks broke South Africa.

Apart from a cool head, what was required was mental toughness, and when it comes to that, there are few to match players from the North Zone.

Sehwag comes from the hard world of cricket in Delhi, where there are more people trying to pull you down than encourage you.

On top of that, Najafgarh is not the happening place, at least in terms of cricket.

So he has had to fight. And that's the fighting quality that has helped him, be it with the bat or the ball.

...and can also fly high

When Graeme Smith slashed Zaheer Khan hard, the shot had a boundary written all over it. Till Yuvraj Singh came up with a gravity-defying catch square of the wicket. He simply flew, and held on, and had the presence of mind to grip the ball firmly in his left hand before he fell to the ground.

Then, when things were getting really tight, Yuvraj dived full length at short fine-leg to grab on to another blinder, with his weaker right hand. Again, his instincts told him to keep his wrist off the ground, to ensure that this one too stuck.

All this stuff is not what Indian fielding is renowned for. Not long ago, almost certainly both catches would have gone down, but the presence of some youngsters in the side has worked wonders.

Yuvraj and Mohd Kaif have taken India fielding to another plain altogether. The region from gully to cover has become practically impregnable.

Playing South Africa, it is almost inevitable that comparisons with Jonty Rhodes will be made, and two of Yuvraj's catches on Wednesday would have even pleased the livewire South African.

So what then, is the similarity between Yuvraj and Rhodes? For starters, the builds are totally different. Yuvraj is tall and broad, with greater body weight. His height would obviously make his centre of gravity higher than Rhodes', who has the ability to keep his balance even at the most awkward of angles.

His lighter body also gives Rhodes greater acceleration, which he needs since his reach is not as long as Yuvraj's. Consequently, he can charge into the stumps and effect run-outs with greater accuracy.

Yuvraj's albatross-like reach, on the other hand, ensures that he does not need to move that quickly.

Rhodes is a combination of Yuvraj and Kaif, since the latter has displayed a lightning turn of speed, and rarely lets the ball past him. Kaif's ground fielding is possibly better than Yuvraj's, simply because of his light body.

While there is only one Jonty Rhodes, we are sure that India would not be complaining, since one each of Yuvraj and Kaif can also work wonders.

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