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My best Test innings, says Sehwag

March 28, 2008 20:37 IST

He came, he saw, he conquered! That is what fans at the M A Chidambaran stadium in Chennai -- and millions who watched the third day's proceedings in the first Test against South Africa on television -- must have said after Virender Sehwag single-handedly decimated the South African bowlers during his unbeaten knock of 309.

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The dashing opener, also known as the 'Nawab of Najafgarh', certainly stole the limelight on Friday with "his best Test innings", even better than the maiden triple hundred he scored against Pakistan at Multan in March 2004.

"I will say this is my best Test innings, because I made 300 and scored at more than a-run-a-ball. I think this is better than [the one at] Multan, because in Multan the wicket was better than this and the conditions were not hot and humid when we played there," he said.

It was not long ago that Sehwag found himself dropped from the Test team for the home series against Pakistan. But he made the trip to Australia despite poor domestic form. Down Under, he was not considered for the first two Tests, but returned to the side in the third Test and played an important role in India's victory at Perth before his brilliant match-saving knock of 151 in Adelaide enabled India save the fourth Test.

Sehwag revealed that he was shocked when he was dropped from the Test squad late last year despite averaging 50 with the bat. He said the determination to prove the selectors wrong motivated him to make such a strong comeback.

"When I was dropped from the Test squad I was hurt, because I have a good record in Test cricket. So I was looking to prove myself that I am a good Test player and deserve a place in the team. That feeling hurt to be dropped from the team, but it was also good for me because I was able to motivate myself and concentrate better," he said.

The 29-year-old joined a select band comprising the legendary Don Bradman and Brian Lara as the only players to score two triple centuries in Test cricket.

"It feels great; I am proud of myself," he said.

"I don't have words to express. I don't think I showed so much patience and concentration in Pakistan [309]. I wanted to prove to myself that I belong here and there is no better way than playing a big knock and scoring a triple century. I think I am the first player from India to score two triple hundreds," added the dashing opener.

Despite batting in hot and humid conditions for a full day, Sehwag said he is still fresh and ready for another assault tomorrow.

"I don't think so I am tried, I am fresh. My face will tell you that I am pretty fresh now," he said.

"I think I played session by session. I was just trying to play for 40 minutes, take some water after that and then again play for 40 minutes. I was not thinking about 200 or 300. It was only when I was around 20 runs away I started to think about it and played some shots," added the Delhi opener.

He said the team management, especially mental and physical conditioning coach Paddy Upton, ensured he was regularly supplied with fluids during his knock.

"It is very difficult in Chennai because it is very humid. You lose a lot of water from your body and a lot of salt. I think thanks to the physio [Paul Close] and Paddy [Upton] who were looking after me very well and sending some salt water and coconut water every time the drinks came on. I want to thank even my colleagues like Irfan Pathan, Piyush Chawla and Yuvraj Singh, who were looking after my drinks. They helped me a lot during the drinks break," he said.

Next on his sights are a plethora of records, including Lara's world record of 400. However, Sehwag is not looking that far.

"I was not thinking about Lara's record at all. Anil Kumble told me that my job is to stay till the end. Even tomorrow when I come to bat I won't be thinking about Lara's record. I will just look to bat for one session and I think if I bat till lunch I will come close to Lara's record," he said.

The 29-year-old believes India need a lead of around 200 runs to put South Africa in to bat on the final day.

"South Africa scored 540, so we will look to score more than 700 and declare. And with Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh getting to turn the ball, hopefully, we will get some result," he quipped.

Sehwag was never stalled in the nervous nineties, but instead launched a six or a boundary every time he approached a century mark.

"My theory is simple: if there is a ball to be hit, I will hit. It doesn't matter whether I am playing on 90 or 150 or whether I am close to 200. Even I tried to hit a six when I was on 298, but I missed it. I always play like that and I have grown playing like this; it is a natural instinct," he said.

He dedicated the triple century to his father, who passed away recently.

"I would like to dedicate it to my family, especially my dad. He is not with us, but he always wished that I play for India and score a lot of runs. I would like to dedicate my triple century to my father, my family, my wife and my son. They have also played a role because we don't spend much time together. Whenever we spend time together they look to motivate me to perform better," he said.

Harish Kotian in Chennai