London: Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has defended the batting of opening batsman Virender Sehwag who got out for a golden pair in the third Test at Edgbaston. Sehwag, who joined the team mid-way because of a shoulder operation had gloved a Jimmy Anderson delivery to Matt Prior in the first innings of the Edgbaston Test.
In the second innings, Sehwag played a reckless shot and was caught by Andrew Strauss in the slips despite India's precarious position in the Test. "Irrespective of where he is playing, what the conditions are, he plays his own game. He backs himself to play shots and at times he may get out. So you may say it was one of those games where he got out. What's important is he still backs himself to play those shots and that's one thing that will definitely help us win more games. I think it's a good sign to have him, especially opening the innings," said Dhoni on Wednesday.
India have been hampered a great deal with their opening pairs failing to put up decent partnerships.
Their best opening stand was in the first innings of the opening Test at Lord's where Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund put on 63. In contrast, when India won their last Test series here in 2007, the team benefitted from the efforts of openers Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik before Sehwag and Gambhir formed a formidable pair which contributed in India climbing up to No 1 in the Test charts.
"We are one side which relies heavily on the opening pair. Whenever we have got off to a good start, the middle and lower middle order have really capitalised on it and been able to put par-plus scores. I think we rely on them (openers) but it's not that we can't score if the openers don't score. I don't want to put any extra pressure on the openers," said Dhoni.
India will be helped in no small measure if Sehwag fires. England has not really seen a great deal of him in Test cricket. His hundred at Trent Bridge on the 2002 tour is his best effort and he didn't get picked for the 2007 tour. Dhoni made it clear that he doesn't want to indulge in any blame game but he did attribute India's situation to the lack of runs from his batsmen. "Not to forget, we have not put many runs on the board which I felt is very important to give the bowlers the liberty of trying things out," said Dhoni.
While being blamed for India's 0-3 situation, Dhoni didn't get enough credit for his two fine innings (77 and 74 not out) in the last Test at Edgbaston. He has shown the other batters (except for Rahul Dravid, who has scored two hundreds in the series) how it can be done.