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Virender is exceptional: Strauss

Chennai: It was set to be Andrew Strauss’s day but Virender Sehwag stole the limelight in the final session. Strauss admitted Sehwag’s innings had given India a “sniff of victory”.

The following are excerpts

His innings

Yes, it is a big moment for me. It was a real special moment to play alongside Collingwood in a pretty difficult situation for the team. Every player goes through ups and downs. Certainly 2007 was a tough year for me. There were moments when I thought I was not good enough to play for England again. But being patient helped… Once you get back to form it all counts... I felt comfortable in the second innings.

Sehwag’s innings

Sehwag is exceptional. He always takes the game to the opposition, and frankly, I’m unfamiliar to the way he plays. He got his luck a little bit. But that’s the kind of player he is. He has given India a sniff of victory. It’s amazing to see the freedom with which he plays. Exceptionally pleasing to watch if you are not in the opposition…

The team’s approach on Monday

From our point of view I think we are still confident we can take the last nine wickets. There is definitely a lot happening on the wicket. If we just remain patient, there will be nine opportunities for us. You have to have a pretty defensive field. So that makes it harder to take wickets. He is out of the way. The batsmen coming next will play pretty positively. To survive on such wickets you have to be positive anyway. We will have to hold our nerve and take our chances.

On how difficult it is for a captain to set field against Sehwag

It’s pretty tricky for a captain to set field for a player like him. We had some plans for him, but he went over the heads of the fielders. It is important you don’t get carried away.

When someone takes so many risks it will mean one risk too many. You do not get wild when someone is batting like that. He played one ball from Anderson between first and second slip. But you can’t do anything about that… whatever the field placements or otherwise.

England’s slow run rate, and if there was a message to speed things up in the second session . Unfortunately I got out quickly after lunch. To force the issue with a very old ball is very difficult. We were trying to do that.

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