It was the best ever start to an innings in test cricket for the last 50 years that we saw at Lahore when Indians milked the Pakistan bowling. Fours and sixes were running without a stop throughout the test match, no matter which team was batting. But the one man who leapt out was the Indian opener Virender Sehwag. The best partnership for the opening wicket might be the 413 between India’s Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy against New Zealand in 1956. But there are some very important factors that make this innings special. The Kiwi bowlers weren’t of the greatest build then. Tony MacGibbon was the most experienced who had only 41 wickets from 18 tests until then. Johnny Hayes had only 13 wickets from 6 matches, Harry Cave had only 20 from 14, Alex Moir had only 21 from 12 and Matt Poore had only 9 from 14. This shows that the then Kiwi attack was so lame. Compare this with the proven capabilities of the Pakistani bowlers who were flailed by Sehwag and Rahul Dravid. Danish Kaneria has 143 wickets from 31 tests, Shoaib Akhtar has 161 wickets from 40 tests, Moahammad Sami has 65 from 25, Rana Naved-Ul-Hassan has 16 from 8, Shahid Afridi has 39 from 21 and Shoaib Malik has 12 from 13. Though the records of Rana Naved, Malik and Afridi seem not telling, they have got adequate experience in international cricket. Another factor that distinguishes the Sehwag-Dravid duo from Mankad-Roy is that the new generation made it away from home unlike the old generation. The third factor is that Sehwag and Dravid made this gigantic partnership facing the first ball with a deficit of 679 runs whereas the other two were batting in the first innings of that Madras test match in 1956 January.
With his blistering knock, Sehwag could sideline all the other players who made it big in this match. The list includes technicians like Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Dravid and killing machines like Afridi and Kamran Akmal. Once again Dravid proved that he is the best support innings player around. It was a great wicket to bat on and both sides proved it, though the Indians deserve more credit. The worthy question still remains; what was the use of this flattest of tracks for a series like this? Was this test match meant for a series opener batting practice for both sides?