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Vettori class for Sehwag in captaincy

Sandeep Dwivedi

Posted: Mar 30, 2009 at 0952 hrs IST

Napier: At the end of Day Four, it was tough to say whether Daniel Vettori was physically exhausted after bowling 24 overs and fielding in the circle all day or mentally drained by the complex plans he laid to ambush the Indians. While Indiaís stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag was blamed for unimaginative field placements, Vettori canít be guilty of the same as he was constantly changing plans to induce a false shot from the Indians on a pitch that didnít have much for the bowlers.

With the batsmen defending, Vettori invited them to take risks by leaving wide gaps in the field; at the same time, he packed those areas that would get easy singles and help rotate the strike. He bowled to the right-handers most of the day, packing the off side but keeping the leg side open. He just had a forward short leg, which meant even a push on the leg side would guarantee a single. But, for that, the batsmen would have to play against the heavy tweak that the skipper rolled out. Dravid got beaten as he tried to nudge the turning ball off his legs past the short leg fielder, misreading the length.

For offie Jeetan Patel, there was a short mid-wicket in front of mid-on and short extra cover and mid-off. The two square boundaries were vacant. With the batsmen trying to play straight, there was hardly any room, the only way out being the aerial route. Gautam Gambhir hit a boundary over mid-on and Rahul Dravid hit a straight six, but such shots were few and far in between.

Attack or defend?

The dilemma of whether to attack or defend was responsible for the low scoring rate. When Gambhir and Dravid tried to play square to the wicket, they missed the ball, but luckily were not in line of the stumps.

With the pacers in action, Vettori placed a short cover and short extra cover close to each other, with the boundary behind unmanned. Chris Martin and James Franklin bowled just short of good length, inviting batsmen to step out. A perfect hit was a certain four but a miscued shot could well be caught by the two men.

There was also a subtle change of bowlers. Vettori got Jesse Ryder in when Dravid had to play the last over before lunch ó Dravid had been out to the part-timer in the first innings. Similarly, Tendulkar had to face Patel early. The Indians, though, werenít going to repeat their mistakes. Vettori even gave the final over of the day to Ross Taylor but nothing seemed to work.

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