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Into 300 club, no singles please

Multan, March 29: Only Virender Sehwag could have been so outrageous: Becoming the first Indian to script a Test triple hundred, that too with a six (on 295, off Saqlain Mushtaq).

He finished on 309, well short of Matthew Hayden’s 380 but, as Sachin Tendulkar pointed out with pride, “it’s great” that an Indian is finally in the 300-club.

In the process, of course, Sehwag beat V.V.S. Laxman’s India best of 281. Sporting almost to a fault, he complimented the new record holder thus: “Because he scores so fast, I always thought he would get past me. But, yes, I’m disappointed he didn’t overtake Hayden.”

Sehwag himself didn’t suggest being very disappointed. “One way of looking is that I got 309.... So, I’m happy.... The achievement, though, hasn’t sunk in.... Do-teen din aur lag sakte hain ....”

His innings, however, ended via a soft dismissal as the hardworking Mohammed Sami got him to edge. After four lives, Sehwag wasn’t destined to get a fifth.

Just yesterday, after finishing the first day of the opening Test on 228, Sehwag announced he was looking at 300. This afternoon, he actually did get there, requiring 497 minutes and 363 deliveries (38x4, 6x6).

“I didn’t want to get to 300 with singles.... In any case, a spinner was on and, so, decided to reach my first real milestone with a six.... It’s more pleasing that my idol (Sachin) was at the other end,” Sehwag, who dedicated the triple to his parents and fiancée Arti, observed.

Idol or not, Sehwag upstaged Sachin throughout their nearly six hours partnership.

For his part, Sachin quipped: “Usually, Veeru hears but doesn’t listen to what I say. This time, he did listen.... He is unpredictable, yet I could predict that he would touch 300 with a big one....”

According to Sachin, his top advice was: “Wait for the loose balls and don’t do anything silly.”

Captain Sourav Ganguly, sitting out the first Test for injury, said: “It was an outstanding innings which settled the issue about opening. He has done a phenomenal job at the top of the order.”

“Awesome” is how Michael Slater described Sehwag’s epic. Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: “It’s such a great day for India and, being an opener myself, I’m delighted that somebody from my tribe has provided so much joy.”

By the way, Sachin and Sehwag featured in a record-rewriting 336-run association for the third wicket — the best for any partnership versus Pakistan and the highest for the third wicket against all countries.

That, then, is jodi No.1.

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