Northampton, Aug 5: Virender Sehwag - just the name conjures up a blitzing run-machine. His treasure trove of unorthodox strokes and indefatigable hunger for boundary-piercing is legendary. But as an opener devoid of conventional technique, the Nizam of Nagafgarh is a vulnerable component in the Indian team. Indeed, he is a bit of a hazard when the present touring side requires him to fire big time and erect a foundation from which it can launch out.
In Sehwag's defence, he has a century to his credit from the last time India toured England. But he was uncharacteristically circumspect while coming up with that ton in the crucial second Test at Nottingham in 2007. Still, his last few months in the Test arena have been rife with injury and wavering form. For instance, in the 2010-11 tour of South Africa, he was able to put on just 144 runs at an average of 24. Even his strike rate descended from an median of 82 to 70.
If India has to entertain any of hopes of clawing its way back into the current Test series against England, Sehwag will have to play long innings of controlled aggression. He would have to keep the scoreboard turning over in order to offset the pressure that England have developed in a penchant for whipping out. His hoicks over midwicket, powerful heaves down the ground and his trade-mark upper-cuts will have to show face again.
After all, what defined the Australian Test juggernaut of the noughties was the top-order's ability to score runs at nearly 4-an-over, notching up around 300 in the first day itself. Rahul Dravid's outstanding patience at the crease and insufferably low-strike rate is already the stuff of old school. If a team is to win a Test match these days, they have to demonstrate a more pro-active attitude. Can a flawed Sehwag rise to the occasion?