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Sehwag A Joy And Nightmare To Watch In NZ

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Fuseworks Media
Sehwag A Joy And Nightmare To Watch In NZ

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Christchurch, March 7 NZPA - If Ross Taylor was a dispassionate cricket spectator, he admits he too would be caught up in the `wow' factor associated with India's Virender Sehwag.

On the eve on the third one-day international against the in-form Indians -- a game New Zealand must win to keep the series alive -- one of the Black Caps' most eye-catching strokemakers confessed a grudging admiration for Sehwag's ability to toy with and torment opposing bowling attacks.

Despite being partnered by star batsman Sachin Tendulkar at the top of the Indian order, Sehwag is arguably the show stopper as India attempt to bat themselves into an unbeatable position at AMI Stadium tomorrow (2pm).

Sehwag plundered 77 from 56 balls to kickstart India's 53-run win in Napier on Tuesday, while last night in Wellington his 54 from 36 had the crowd in raptures until an incorrect umpiring decision ended another staggering assault before the contest was washed out.

Taylor, responsible alongside Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill for negating Sehwag's contribution, said had he not been fielding in the covers, he would also marvelled at the 30-year-old's ability to turn good or poor balls into boundaries.

"You've got the team aspect and you're wanting to get him out -- and at the same time there's a bit of a `wow' factor about watching it," he said.

"I'm sure the New Zealand public are pleased at the way he's batted. From a spectacle point of view it's an amazing thing to watch but from a player's point of view, hopefully we don't get to see it (tomorrow)."

Whether the New Zealand bowlers are capable of sabotaging another onslaught remains to be seen after two failed attempts.

On his last visit to Christchurch, Sehwag smacked the first three balls he faced on tour in the opening Twenty20 on to the construction site at square leg -- and that inviting boundary is certain to be targeted again.

Taylor, who confessed he was happy not to be a front line bowler, said New Zealand had formulated plans to curb Sehwag -- but the implementation had been lacking.

"If we bowl tight areas we can restrain him, but we have to hit that five or six balls an over to put him under pressure consistently."

Taylor also rued a couple of half chances that went begging: in both games early aerial slogs fell within range of Iain O'Brien in the deep, while Taylor had an opportunity to run Sehwag out last night as his mobility was affected by a calf strain.

Sehwag is not alone in taking toll off New Zealand's attack -- Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina have already notched fifties in the series -- so it was no secret the seam bowlers line and length had to tighten.

"We're being punished square and all the New Zealand grounds are pretty small square (of the wicket)," Taylor said.

"We have to try to get them to hit down the ground a bit more. It gives us more opportunities and it's easier to set a field to as well."

Bowling issues aside, Taylor said New Zealand camp remained confident of regrouping and not conceding their first ODI series at home since Australia won the Chapell-Hadlee Trophy in 2005.

Since then New Zealand have won six and drawn one series.

"We've been in this situation against the West Indies (in January) and we've come out winning the must-win games.

Taylor was at the crease in Napier, in the rain, when New Zealand won the decider by nine runs to shade the five-match series 2-1.

`We're still in with a sniff even though we haven't played as well as we'd have liked in the first couple of games," he said.

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori did not travel south with the team but will rejoin the squad after diverting to Auckland to spend time with his heavily pregnant wife Mary.

Jeetan Patel was named yesterday as cover, but Vettori is expected to play tomorrow -- though his participation in games three and four in Hamilton and Auckland may be affected by impending fatherhood.

The Indian camp are remaining tight-lipped on the status of Ishant Sharma (shoulder) and the extent of Sehwag's calf strain, an impediment that saw him end last night's innings with a runner.

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