Virender Sehwag Biography
Virender Sehwag gives bowlers nightmares. He redefined batting at the top in whites. He makes spectators flock to grounds. He floors journalists and scandalises the world with his candid, tongue-in-cheek comments. He causes palpitation to his anxious teammates in the pavilion. He made his coach John Wright grab him by the collar in frustration at The Oval in 2002.
In short, there has been none like Virender Sehwag. Seldom has Indian cricket witnessed a personality to match him in popularity. Even his fictional mother from Reliance commercials became a popular face among cricket fans in the early 2000s.
He also slammed 309, the first triple-hundred by an Indian, followed it with 319, then 293: these are the top three Test scores for Indians. He also held the top ODI score by an Indian (219) for some time.
He scored a hundred on Test debut in South Africa. He was asked to open — a Sourav Ganguly brainwave that was looked upon sceptically. Unperturbed, Sehwag scored hundreds in England, Australia, and Pakistan. He scored 99 before lunch on Day One in West Indies. He carried his bat through an innings at Galle for 201* — perhaps the greatest display of domination of spin Sri Lanka has seen. And then, there was the outrageously arrogant 68-ball 83 that set up a chase of 387 against England at Chepauk.
Despite making purists scorn, Sehwag’s average hovers around the 50-mark in Tests. The strike rate is in the eighties. The ODI strike rate is over a run a ball over a 15-year career. These are incredible numbers. Few can forget his outings in World Cup 2011, where he started his first five innings with a four off the first ball.
Watching Sehwag bat can scandalise any puritan, for the footwork is minimal; the disdain for bowlers, especially spinners, supreme; the concept of defensive batting, non-existent; he hits the ball hard, especially in the somewhat less-coveted V between cover and third-man; and in between all that, his head remains steady, the way the MCC manual commands it to be.
When Sachin Tendulkar blocked a ball, he jumped up and down in the pavilion, exasperated because the Little Master did not go for a six; for Sehwag knew no first gear or inhibition: he tried to hit a six when on 195 and got out at MCG; a couple of months later he reached both 100 and 300 during his 309 at Multan.
In ODIs he has been a partnership-breaker with his off-breaks, his most performance coming against South Africa in 2002 Champions League semi-final. When Anil Kumble broke down in his final Test at Kotla in 2008, Sehwag sent down 40 overs to take 5 for 104 against Australia: there was no tail-ender on the list.
With Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag formed India’s most prolific opening stand, batting 87 innings together and adding 4,412 runs at 52.52. Gambhir was not his only opening partner; he added 410 with Rahul Dravid. When asked how he felt about falling agonisingly short of Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy’s 413, Sehwag mentioned — much to the horror of everyone — that he had not heard of either.
No, they do not make many of his kind; not even in Najafgarh.