The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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I fear no reputation: Sehwag
- ‘I haven’t faced any bowler who could be termed outstanding’

Hamilton: Dashing opener Virender Sehwag said Sunday he is ready to dominate the best bowlers at the World Cup and not afraid of anyone.

“I fear no reputation. I haven’t faced any bowler who could be termed outstanding,” said the Delhi batsman, who has struck two centuries in the ongoing ODI series in New Zealand.

Sehwag said he is not going to curb his attacking instincts. “When I bat, I don’t bother about who is in front of me. I am more concerned with how to play my shots and when.”

Sehwag has scored 295 runs at 49.17 from six matches in the ODI series. Mathew Sinclair has the next best tally of 143.

“If a batsman gets conscious about the bowler, he won’t be able to bat. I’m not conscious of the bowler, be it Glenn McGrath, Shane Bond or Shoaib Akhtar.”

He said the World Cup games are not going to be different from any other game and he is confident of doing well.

“I have no preparation for the World Cup. I am only looking at the next match (last ODI vs New Zealand). But having scored hundreds on these difficult wickets, I think I can get even bigger scores on other wickets.

“I’m happy I will go to the World Cup but there is no excitement. For me they are just normal matches,” Sehwag said.

Sehwag, who has played first class cricket entirely as a middle-order bat, has done remarkably to cement his place as opener in both versions of the game for the national team.

“It was a tour (Sri Lanka, 2001) on which Sachin Tendulkar was missing. Sourav Ganguly had already tried four different partners and asked me if I would open.

“I have never been an opener so I said I should not be dropped if I didn’t score. The coach and the captain said if you don’t succeed, we would put you back in middle-order.”

However, Sehwag came out blazing in the role of an opener in the tri-series and smashed New Zealand for a century off 69 balls. It was the turning point of his career.

“Frankly, I just love to bat. It doesn’t matter whether I am opening or batting at No. 7.”

Recounting another memorable knock, Sehwag said the hundred in Nottingham in 2002 gave him the confidence to bat on seaming wickets.

“I gained a lot by scoring that hundred. I thought if I could get it on this seaming track, I could get it anywhere. I came here thinking the wicket would be same as Nottingham. But these tracks are different. More difficult,” Sehwag noted.

Like other Indian batsmen, Sehwag too was troubled in the two-match Test series that preceded the one-dayers. From the four innings, he could aggregate just 25 before some advice from Tendulkar changed his fortunes.

“I had problems in the first three Test innings and spoke to Sachin. He said most of us are getting out on front foot on these wickets. He said if you don’t allow the ball to move, you could avoid getting out. That is why we decided to stand a foot outside the crease.

“I also practised against the yorker and deliveries coming on to the body. The ball cuts in sharply on these wickets and since I am a back foot player, it was either hitting my pads or deflecting on to the stumps.

“When you know you would be beaten twice or thrice an over, there is no point getting affected. I just waited for the deliveries off which I could play shots. There was no point in playing cover drives as the ball was seaming and you could be beaten. I was waiting for the short deliveries to employ my cuts,” he said.

Sehwag said he felt great that he scored two hundreds in a series when others have struggled to get to 20 but there was a sense of pain at the way he lost out on a winning opportunity for his team at Napier.

“I felt bad about getting run out when batting past my hundred. If I had stayed, we could have won. I wanted to retain strike because I was hitting the boundaries. But when I was run out, I was very upset.”

Sehwag said he is aware that everybody knew his strength was his shot-making ability in the point and thirdman region. But he said he would not change for safeguarding his wicket.

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