The way Virender Sehwag batted in the nets on Wednesday, after a five-day gap to rest a sore thumb, one couldn't help but feel that with each of his ferocious hits, he was also dismissing the possibility of India playing a fifth bowler. Such was the opener's touch against both spinners and pacers that it would have killed the thought, if any, being nursed by the captain and coach of resting Sehwag to accommodate an extra bowler.
Ever since he took a knock on his right glove in the nets last Friday while facing a local net bowler, all eyes have been on Sehwag. On Wednesday, he was among the first to emerge from the dressing room, all padded up, and headed to the nets.
He started against the spinners and treated most deliveries with disdain. When he shifted to the pace bowlers' net, there was no slowing down, with Duncan Fletcher monitoring from behind the nets. The debate over Sehwag started only due to his recent inconsistency. But the Delhi opener looks fit and the rest against England seems to have reinvigorated him, after the low key start he had in the opening group game against Afghanistan.
Team India know the psychological edge Sehwag's mere presence gives the side. No wonder Australia admit he will be a big factor in the game on Friday.
"Sehwag can miss out a couple of times but we all know that every time he misses out, he is closer to the next big one. Normally when he scores big runs, he scores them quickly, so I will never say Sehwag is out of form," Mike Hussey said on Wednesday.
Despite the success of the five-bowler combination in the last game against England, it is becoming increasingly clear that India will revert to playing seven batsmen and rely on part-timers. Yuvraj, the other batsman who could have been in line to being sacrificed, is getting better with each batting stint.
There is likely to be a change in the bowling composition though. At the start of the event, India had planned on playing three pacers and a spinner, but after Bhajji's success against England and with wickets getting drier, the think tank is considering a two-pace, two-spin attack.
"They have quality players all the way down that list and we got to adapt pretty quickly. I do suspect they will bowl a fair bit of spin to us; if not just the frontline spinners, may be the part-timers will also bowl at us. It can be a tough challenge," said Hussey.
But Australia will be ready for Harbhajan. "Of course, he is a class act and has been that for a long time. He is someone we respect but when you play T20, you got to be aggressive as well and try and put him under pressure. He did a fantastic job the other night but I think we can play better than England."
Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi ,5/21/2013, 20:00 (IST)
Lord's, London ,5/16/2013, 15:30 (IST)
M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru ,5/18/2013, 20:00 (IST)
Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, Pune ,5/19/2013, 16:00 (IST)
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