Sehwag is better than Gilchrist

The Indian opener is the most destructive player in the game today, writes Crowe

It was only fitting that the fastest century by an Indian belongs to Virender Sehwag. For it to happen tonight was only apt, because the fourth One-Day International belonged to Sehwag alone.

Justice was done tonight and there was no other better sight than Sehwag in full flow.

No one, apart from Adam Gilchrist, has shown more exuberance, power, timing and daring strokeplay than this guy in recent years. I think he is now a notch above Gilchrist, as a destructive match-winner at the top of the order. He is now very much in a class of his own and is easily the most destructive player in the game today.

Given his innings in Test cricket, triple hundreds, exploits in T20s and obviously one-dayers he continues to defy really what batsmen have been trying to do for ages.

No matter what New Zealand try and do, they just could not pin down the guy. The Black Caps could get better, but that’s not going to matter.

This is a freak team, you can only sit back, enjoy and savour whatever they dish out. Such teams don’t come around too often. Last time such intimidation was felt was when the West Indies team of the early 1980s were around.

You had Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes who opened. Then you had Viv Richards, Richie Richardson and Clive Lloyd to follow. The next best team in the third spot would be the Australian side of recent times.

What else can you say, tonight was like a man was playing a boy.

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Sehwag is at his absolute prime, at the peak of his mind, body and everything is kicking in for him very well. He will probably never play this well ever. It is in these two coming years that he will play at his best. Then things will start slowing down then as age will inevitably set in.

He is enjoying the form of his life and it comes along in a player’s career between the age of 28-32.

Having said that, Sehwag will never surpass Sachin Tendulkar. The great man’s legacy is in his records, his longevity of playing from age 16 to now 20 years on. He deserves a different kind of appreciation.

Sehwag plays in a different sort vein than Tendulkar. Sehwag is outrageous in the way he bats, but Tendulkar is more thoughtful, measured and structured. Tendulkar has a genius touch which means he can chalk up more hundreds, average more and carry the hopes of his team longer.

So make no mistake, Sehwag will never ever surpass Tendulkar.

It’s because of Tendulkar that Sehwag plays in an outrageous manner. With Tendulkar at the other end or the thought of him coming in next, allows Dhoni and Gary Kirsten to tell Sehwag ‘hey you go for it, don’t hold back, you have got the green light’. Then the blood starts to pump, there is no stopping the guy.

But the big surprise was that Sehwag was taken out of the team for a year. The interesting thing is that Sehwag’s ODI average is 33, it’s only average, but he strikes at 100. You know he is showing in the last year or so that he has become a very consistent intimidator.

The best part is he is the same player who scored two hundreds on the last tour when others failed, but he has become more mature now. He is a bit more consistent now, he is a leader now and senses his responsibility.

The double hundred in ODI’s is going to happen one day and the odds are that he would be at the top of the list. It could happen at Eden Park because the ground is small enough. The way India has been going it looks like India would go past 400 and someone’s going to post 200.

India would most likely have score over 400 in tonight’s game if they had batted first.

With one more game to go, the stage looks set for the Test matches. If the sun comes out, the pitches should be good. Especially the Test here at Hamilton and also Napier would be very big scoring.

Sehwag could well be in line for a 400 in the Test matches as well. He’s got to 300 twice and now he is at the peak of his powers, concentrates and scores at a rate that is possible.

There maybe some talk about Gautam Gambhir getting to open in one-day cricket with Sehwag, but Sachin gets the call. That’s got to be Sachin’s prerogative and that is the end of the story. He has the right to say and play where he wants.

Gambhir will just have to bide his time. Tendulkar will play for two more years till the 2011 World Cup, but Gambhir will play for ten more, so he has time on his hand.

For NZ confidence is down, we are ranked bottom in the world (I don’t count Bangladesh), we don’t have the ability to take twenty wickets in test matches, and score test centuries on a regular basis. We need to be realistic and look to improve on every session we play. That’s all you can ask for from anyone.

One thing about the Black Caps we saw tonight is that they still don’t know how to play spin bowling. Yuvraj and Yusuf’s spells was an example how we are still inexperienced and underskilled in those areas.

In the Test matches, Harbhajan or Amit Mishra will have an impact if Zaheer and Ishant don’t, which I am sure they will.

One thing about the Indians though is their fielding which needs to be improved upon. They are still, at times, the worst fielding team going around. If they are going to be unbeatable that’s one area they can focus on, including Dhoni.

But at the moment it’s no big deal.


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