On this day: India crosses 400-run barrier for the first time in ODIs

India's intent was apparent in its unyielding aggression: 100 came in the 16th over, 150 in the 24th, 200 in the 30th, 250 in the 37th, 300 in the 43rd, 350 in the 47th, and 400 in the 50th.

Virender Sehwag celebrates after reaching his hundred.-AP

Backed into a corner, India fought back with flair and skill — even if it was only against Bermuda. Records fell: India's total of 413, its first time past 400, replaced Sri Lanka's 398 as the highest in World Cups; the victory margin of 257 was one more than Australia's world record.

At the forefront of India's attack was Virender Sehwag. Pilloried by many as being a liability, Sehwag returned to form with an 87-ball 114. He started tentatively, but the more time he spent out in the middle, the closer to his best he got. He began by playing straight — "I wanted to play the first 10 or 12 balls in the V," he would say later.

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Soon, Sehwag was striking, the ball through the off-side with the surety of touch of old. He reached his half-century in 43 balls — in this were contained blazing cuts and drives. His confidence enhanced, he increased his pace of scoring, exploring other stroke options, to reach his 100, 38 balls later.

Indian captain Rahul Dravid, who was instrumental in Sehwag making the World Cup squad, was — to no one's surprise — asked after the match if he felt vindicated. "It's not about me, it's not about me at all," he said.

India's batsman Virender Sehwag plays a shot against Bermuda during the Group B Cricket World Cup match in Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad, March 19, 2007.   -  AP

 

"Viru (Sehwag) is a key member of our team. It's good that he has struck form. After getting back from South Africa, he's put in a lot of work not just in the nets but also with his fitness. It has been fantastic for me to watch that. I generally know when he is a few knocks away from form — during his purple patch there are certain signs, and they were evident to me. But, we haven't brought him here to make just one hundred. We expect a lot from him as we do of all our batsmen."

The relief on Sehwag's face was obvious. He said the fact that the century was scored against a lesser side didn't detract from it. "It gave me a lot of confidence. Making a century is always difficult. This was long overdue, I thank God that it came when the team needed it. It came after a long time, but it came at the right time."

Sehwag laid the base and most of the early floors with a 202-run partnership with Sourav Ganguly. Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar then set about applying the final touches on the skyscraper. Yuvraj in particular was superb — fluid, attractive strokes were used to clear the Queen's Park Oval. Tendulkar played a smart innings. He started by using the pace of the bowlers. Then he timed off-drives for six.

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Tendulkar brought up the 400 with a lapped six. His partnership with Yuvraj Singh realised 122 runs in 10.2 overs. The sixes kept ringing like a cash register at a garage sale. In all 18 sixes were hit — two by Ganguly, three by Sehwag, one by Dhoni, seven by Yuvraj, four by Tendulkar and one by Dravid.

India's intent was apparent in its unyielding aggression: 100 came in the 16th over, 150 in the 24th, 200 in the 30th, 250 in the 37th, 300 in the 43rd, 350 in the 47th, and 400 in the 50th.

India's quest with the ball was held up by a ninth wicket partnership between David Hemp and Dwayne Leverock. "They had one professional batsman, and he played well," Dravid said. "Having said that, the pitch was very good to bat on in the second innings."

Bermuda cricketer Dwayne Leverock successfully dives to take the catch of India Cricketer Robin Uthappa off Malachi Jones during a group stage match betwen India and Bermuda.   -  AFP

 

Hemp became Bermuda's first half-century maker. It was a rare good moment for Bermuda. Curiously, the side had started well. The first ball of the second over — Malachi Jones' first in the World Cup — sparked a celebration so fresh, so unencumbered it caused cynical hacks to drop their guard.

Leverock persuaded his considerable body sideways at a Robin Uthappa edge. One hand stretched out. As he fell to the ground, Leverock realised the ball had stuck. He rolled to his feet and ran towards square leg. He stopped, changed direction, and ran the other way. He then blew giant kisses to the spectators.

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Malachi had sprinted to the other side of the ground making as if he wished to reach the Savannah, the giant roundabout a few miles from the Queen's Park Oval. In tow were most of the Bermuda players. He was finally tackled to the ground. He rose, tears streaming down his cheeks. Irving Romaine, the captain, put a paternal arm around the 17-year-old.

"I was like `Wow'," Malachi Jones said. "I just wanted to hold my line and length but to get a wicket with my very first delivery was unbelievable. After that I couldn't bowl well because I couldn't deal with the emotion."

The scores: India 413 for five in 50 overs (S. Ganguly 89, V. Sehwag 114, M. Dhoni 29, Yuvraj Singh 83, S. Tendulkar 57 not out) bt Bermuda 156 in 43.1 overs (D. Hemp 76 not out, A. Agarkar three for 38, A. Kumble three for 38). India won by 257 runs.