Colombo: There might be some doubt about Sehwag’s fitness, his mindset, his Twenty20 form in India but in the Australia camp – there are no second thoughts about his ability or class.
Michael Hussey has seen the right-hander destroy oppositions too many times to believe that the man is ever out of form.
“You can never say Sehwag is out of form. He is never out of form. Every time he is out of form, he comes back with a really big score. And when he gets a big one, it’s really big and quick too. That’s the kind of player he is. So for me, he will never be out of form. He is too dangerous,” said Hussey after a long practice session in the morning at the P Sara Oval in Colombo.
But one has to wonder what Hussey is really afraid of. In ODIs, Sehwag’s record against Australia is anything but scary. In 30 ODIs, he has made 629 runs with a top score of 82 at an average of 21.68 against Australia. In 5 T20Is against Australia, he has made 41 runs with a top-score of 23 at an average of 8.20. Both averages are well below his career average – 35.20 in ODIs, 21.75 in T20Is.
So what’s there to be afraid of? Well, maybe Sehwag’s anger. After not playing a single shot in practice yesterday, today the India opener was out of the blocks early. He was padded up and ready to go even before the rest of the team had finished warming-up. First up for him was a short session against the spinners – Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh before moving on to the fast bowlers nets.
And the first thing, Dr. Baba, the media manager of the Indian team, did after arriving at the P Sara Oval was to walk down to the media and tell everyone that ‘Everyone is fit in the Indian team.’
But Sehwag isn’t the only ‘senior’ player that the Australian have their eye on. Harbhajan’s bowling against England has ensured that he stands a good chance of making the playing XI against Australia.
“Bhajji coming into the team will of course strengthen their team. He is a class act and has been a class act for a long period of time. So he is someone we have to respect but this is T20 and you’ve got to be aggressive,” said Hussey.
However, regardless of whether Harbhajan plays, the Aussies are expecting a lot of spin to come their way.
“Can’t really say what team they will go with but they have quality players all the way down. But I do suspect they will bowl a lot of spin to us. If it’s not the front-line spinners, then they have a lot of part-timers — guys like Yuvraj, Raina, Rohit and even Sehwag can bowl some spin. So they have a lot of options there,” Hussey added.
Talking about aggression, the Aussies sure are playing the ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine well. Just yesterday, the 19-year-old fast bowler Pat Cummins had come out and said that they have prepared a nice short ball barrage for the Indians.
“A few of them aren’t too fond of the short ball,” said Cummins. “We will try and ruffle a few feathers. You know, (Suresh) Raina and (Gautam) Gambhir and a few of those guys, they are never comfortable with the short ball and we are probably going to dig in a couple of them. Hopefully, that pays off.”
India, on the other hand, will be hoping that coming 28 September, this team is able to put all its trouble behind them and play as a unit. The World T20, as we know it, is just beginning.