The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Sourav encouraged shots’

Colombo: If Virender Sehwag made batting look absolutely simple on Sunday night, his comments on the resounding victory that he carved out with a hurricane century against England in the Champions Trophy were simpler.

“We knew they had good bowlers like Caddick and Hoggard, and if we play them well, we can easily win this match. The pitch was also suitable for batting,” Sehwag said after winning the Man-of-the-Match award for his 104-ball 126.

And not even the early ‘life’ he got when a diving Nick Knight failed to latch on to a snick wide of second slip in the third over of the innings could make him cautious. Asked if he felt a bit under pressure after surviving that chance, he said: “No, I continued to play my natural game.”

He said if the innings had to be propped up, one of them had to take charge of the scoring, and he did it according to plan. Once he reached 70, he was determined to make his hundred, as he did not want to leave any difficult task for the next batsmen by throwing his wicket away.

The Najafgarh lad does not believe, as he sometimes seems to give the impression, that his batting should be the same in Tests and one-dayers. “I’m trying to change my game in the Tests,” he said, referring to his dismissal through catches in the slip cordon. “I plan to change myself.”

Sourav, who saw Sehwag blast a century against New Zealand at the SSC in Colombo last year, said his opening partner played brilliantly. A proud skipper smiled as Sehwag later said that far from curbing his natural instincts to go after the bowling, Sourav, with whom he shared a 192-run opening partnership, was encouraging him to play his shots.

Rival captain Nasser Hussain was also generous in his praise of Sehwag as well as Sourav. “Nothing went wrong really, they were brilliant, they played exceptionally well,” he said.

Blackwell gain

Meanwhile, England newcomer Ian Blackwell said a switch from his home county Derbyshire to Somerset two seasons ago has helped him rise from anonymity to World Cup contention.

The 24-year-old hit 82 from 68 balls to shore up England’s batting in only his second one-day International on Sunday.

“It’s just nice to get a fifty, especially in your second game,” Blackwell said on Monday.

The Somerset allrounder came in at the last minute for injured Lancashire counterpart Andrew Flintoff after a good run with the bat.

Blackwell had quit Derbyshire in 2000 after three frustrating years in which he failed to establish himself.

He feared he could drift out of the game before former England all rounder Dermot Reeve, then Somerset coach, invited him to make the switch. “I thought it would be a right career move,” Blackwell said. “I will go home and keep improving, whether or not they see me as a player for the future. I seem to have done the right things at the moment, but I am not trying to put pressure on myself.”

But he admitted his performance has raised his World Cup ambitions. “I thought it came around a little too soon, but given a chance in this event, that is obviously an aim for me now.”

Sunday’s innings was an exciting turnaround for Blackwell.

“I couldn’t sleep, to be honest. I had played the game of my life and the last thing I wanted to do was sleep,” he said.

The well-built player revealed he had lost about three litres of body fluids during his 90minute stay in energy-sapping humidity and had to be rehydrated before fielding.

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