x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sehwag's bizarre confession

The form batsman in world cricket confesses he was rooting for Sri Lanka in their chase of 415 set by India in the first ODI in Rajkot.

Virender Sehwag, the form batsman in world cricket, bludgeoned a magnificent century for India in yesterday's epic one-day international victory over Sri Lanka in Rajkot and then confessed he was rooting for the opposition. The right-hander smashed 146 off just 102 balls in India's total of 414 for seven but was then forced to watch most of Sri Lanka's thrilling run chase from the dressing room because of a swollen knee.

Tillakaratne Dilshan managed to upstage Sehwag with a blistering knock of 160 to fire Sri Lanka to the brink of an astonishing victory. But, needing 11 runs off the final over, they fell three runs short. Sehwag, somehow, managed to remain the coolest man at the packed stadium in what was a thrilling denouement "I wasn't tense because I was supporting Sri Lanka," Sehwag explained. "Perhaps it's a bit of superstition because whenever I support India we tend to lose. So, my support was for Sri Lanka."

The visitors were left kicking themselves at missing the chance to record a momentous victory after reaching 291 for one at the 35-over mark. "It is worse to come this close and lose rather than lose by a huge margin," said the captain Kumar Sangakkara. "But I'm very proud of the team and the way they responded to this challenge. When you are chasing a total of 400-plus you can either roll over and die or come out fighting."

MS Dhoni, the India captain, was a relieved man. "It's hard to be cool when your side has scored 400 runs and then you find the opposition needs four or five runs off the last ball," he said. "It was tough out there, but I think the way we played in the last 10 overs was really the difference. The way the guys fielded and the intensity they showed in that period was awesome." kaffleck@thenational.ae