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  • India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 4th day

Sehwag defends India batsmen

Sidharth Monga
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(File photo) Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gave India a solid platform before six wickets fell for 36 runs after lunch © AFP
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Virender Sehwag has called for more patience from India's batsmen, which they can learn from their England counterparts, but he knows it can only help them in the upcoming matches. About this Test, he merely stated he wasn't an atheist. "We have to work hard in the next game," he said. "We are still fighting. Hopefully something happens tomorrow and we can save the match, but I… only god can help us."

In his press conference, Sehwag said at least three times that the batsmen lacked patience. Asked if it was embarrassing that a No. 8, R Ashwin, made batting look easier than the specialist batsmen, Sehwag said: "It's not embarrassment. He is also part of our team. He is a good player. He knows how to score runs and how to survive. Depends on an individual to individual. My batting style is different, and others are different, and Ashwin's is different. If you apply yourself on that wicket, it's not difficult to score runs.

"It's Test cricket, and if you show some patience, you can score some runs on this wicket. Key was patience."

When asked how the England bowlers managed to make the pitch look more threatening, Sehwag chose to focus on the batsmen. "Their batsmen showed patience more than ours," he said. "Their batsmen batted really well. Full credit to the way Cook batted and everyone else batted. Our bowlers did everything, they tried everything. They bowled slow, they bowled quick, they bowled flighted, they bowled flat, but England batted really well, I can say that.

"We tried everything. When we were bowling, the ball started reversing after 10 overs. They played well also. They showed patience. They waited for loose balls, they hit those loose balls. We didn't show enough patience."

Sehwag said the youngsters in the middle order needed time before being judged. "When [Cheteshwar] Pujara scored runs, double hundred and hundred, you guys only said we have found a replacement for Rahul Dravid," he said. "You didn't wait for a couple of matches. Now you are saying that because Rahul Dravid and [VVS] Laxman are not there we are losing. It is a transition period for us, you have to give time to the youngsters.

"We will bounce back, we will score runs. In this series we haven't put runs on the board, especially in the last two games. The moment we put up the runs, 500-plus, it's a different ball game."

Asked if he would consider moving down the order to lend experience to the middle order, Sehwag said it was not about experience. "Yuvraj Singh has played 40 Tests, Virat Kohli has played 13," he said. "He has been playing international cricket for two, three years. He got that ICC cricketer of the year and the BCCI award. He is mature enough. It's not about new and young."

Sehwag might have been struggling outside Asia but he looks every bit a dangerous player on pitches lacking bounce and lateral movement. Once again he got India off to a good start, but his wicket led to a big collapse. Asked if he felt India relied too much on him, Sehwag said: "Our team is very good team. We have six batsmen who are capable of scoring hundreds and double hundreds. It's not that they are depending on me. It's a team game."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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