~~Century proves I can bat in Tests too~~

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2001, 23:23 [IST]
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Bloemfontein (South Africa): The superlative century on Test debut may have made Virender Sehwag the latest sensation of Indian cricket, but for the stocky middle- order batsman himself the knock was nothing but a vindication of his abilities to play the longer version of the game.Sehwag, who had played a few blazing knocks in One-day matches including a 69-ball hundred against New Zealand in the tri-series in Sri Lanka recently, had earned the tag of a specialist for shorter version of the game without even being tried in Tests. Sehwag told in an interview in Bloemfontein on Wednesday that his first innings knock in the opening Test against South Africa had proved he had the patience to bat in Tests too. "I am happy I got a chance to prove my ability in the longer version of the game. I have always backed myself to play long innings. I have played really long stuff in domestic cricket," Sehwag said. Amidst all the praises that are being heaped on him after that 105-run knock, during which he was associated in a 220-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar who himself produced a masterly 155, Sehwag is concentrating to rectify his mistakes. "I think I need to sort out my front foot technique. I am a bit slow in coming forward. I am looking to rectify this part of my game," he said. Sehwag admitted he was nervous while going in to bat and thanked Tendulkar for his timely and useful advices during their marathon partnership. "These wickets are something. I was a bit nervous going in to the middle on the first morning. But then sachin put me at ease. He just kept telling me to look out for the full-pitched deliveries. 'You can handle short stuff because you have time to look at it. It is only the full-pitched deliveries you should be conscious about,' he kept reminding me," he said. Sehwag was also boosted by the manner in which Tendulkar himself was playing. "He was so exact in whatever he wanted to do. For me it was an honour to play most of my first innings in Test cricket with somebody as great as Tendulkar is. It was a dream come true for me." Sehwag couldn't repeat his performance in the second innings as India failed to put up a decent target for the South Africans and lost the test by nine wickets. He played quite confidently and was well on course to another big score when he was caught in two minds on whether to play a Shaun Pollock delivery or not and dragged the ball on to his stumps with an inside edge. "Yes, I was double minded about that stroke," he admitted. "Initially I wanted to play it but at the last moment I decided to leave it... Pollock has been South Africa's stand-out bowler in this Test." "Pollock was the most testing of all bowlers. Except for him and Jacques Kallis, nobody in the South African side was able to move the ball," Sehwag said and added that Mornantu Hayward was the fastest bowler he had faced till now. "But that doesn't matter. As long as the ball doesn't move you can manage the pace," he said. Sehwag said it was slightly difficult to adjust to the wickets in this country but he was practicing hard. "I follow the method of practicing against bowling machine. It really helps," he said.

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