Virender Sehwag is set to become the ninth Indian to play 100 Test matches when India take on England in the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. It would cap a phenomenal journey – one during which he has amazed the world with his thunderous exploits in classical format. Initially stereotyped as a One-Day player, Sehwag has been more successful and boasts of a better record in Test cricket. His uncomplicated approach has pumped life into Test cricket and one can be assured of entertainment when he gets going.
Sehwag wasn’t originally an opener and it was an inspired move to blood him at the top of the order. With his lack of footwork and the desire to attack every other ball, not many would have backed him to succeed as an opener – a duty that requires utmost discipline. The change in spot didn’t tinker his approach as he maintained his aggressive streak. Even after years of batting at the top, Sehwag doesn’t shy away from giving it a go. Irrespective of the situation, he attacks the ball if it is in his zone.
Let us have a look at Sehwag’s Test record. There are certain parameters that reflect his greatness.
To maintain a strike-rate of 82.45 across 99 Test matches is simply phenomenal. Strike-rates may not be considered very relevant in Test cricket as batsmen have time on their hands. However, it truly reflects the amount of damage Sehwag can inflict on the opposition in a very short time. It becomes difficult for them recover after such carnage as it can be psychologically damaging.
Sehwag is also a member of an elite club of batsmen who have scored two triple centuries – with Don Bradman, Chris Gayle and Brian Lara for company. His knock of 309 against Pakistan at Multan in 2004 was the first time an Indian breached the 300 mark. He bettered it four years down the line at Chennai against South Africa when he scored 319. People often talk about those knocks, but even on other occasions Sehwag has shown the ability of converting his hundreds into big ones – 14 of his 23 Test hundreds have been above 150 and six have been double hundreds.
The writer was present when Sehwag scored a mammoth 293 against Sri Lanka at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai. It was a knock that signified Sehwag as a batsman as he literally flayed the Sri Lankan bowling. It was a sporting pitch at Mumbai as the track had something for both batsmen and bowlers. Sehwag walked in to bat early on day two and ended the day on 284 not out. The next day, the streets around Brabourne were filled with people waiting to get it and watch him score the magnificent triple. However, that wasn’t to be and the silence in the stadium on his dismissal resembled the scenes of Sachin Tendulkar’s fall.
The only anomaly is that Sehwag hasn’t maintained a similar streak abroad. Here is home and away break-up:
One can see a gulf in his home and away average – one that has widened a touch in the recent years. As some of the commentators pointed out during the first Test at Ahmedabad, Sehwag has become a more sub-continental player in the last few years. He hasn’t been very successful away from home and that has been worrying. He is not someone who would make a specific adjustment and persistence with the same technique hasn’t paid off when India has travelled abroad. A pertinent factor that proves this point is his record in Australia. Prior to the disastrous 2011-12 tour, Sehwag averaged 59.50 in seven Tests in Australia. That has now dropped down to 46.86.
Knowing the batsman he is, Sehwag would be unfazed by the numbers and would continue with his merry ways. However, there seems to be some caution that has crept in – which was evident during his hundred at Ahmedabad. He scored as fast as he normally does, but there were occasions when he watched the ball closely and assessed his knock. This innings promises to end a barren run and kick-start another successful phase.
The 100th Test is a memorable milestone and a great occasion; the Nawab of Najafgarh would like to mark it with yet another belligerent display.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)