Virender Sehwag smashed 25 fours and 7 sixes during his destructive innings © AFP
Virender Sehwag smashed 25 fours and 7 sixes during his destructive innings © AFP

Call it poetry in motion or an artist at his peak, but when Virender Sehwag turned up the heat on the West Indies on a cold, chilly winter day of December in the central part of India in 2011, there was hardly anything that the Caribbean side could even think of to stop the juggernaut. Humming a few evergreen songs of the legendary Kishore Kumar, Sehwag cared little about the plight of the tourists. He tore the West Indies’ bowling line-up without any mercy, clobbering as many as 25 boundaries and 7 sixes en route a world-record 219 at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.

Those were the days when the ‘feel-good factor’ was coming back into the Indian cricket. In the three-Test series, India had claimed 2-0 win, with West Indies staging a memorable fight back in the final Test at Mumbai. In the first One-Day International (ODI), India managed a one-wicket with with seven balls remaining, in the second they won by 5 wickets. The West Indies finally turned up as they won the third ODI by 16 runs, keeping the series alive as the two teams head to Indore.

Life had become a lot easier for the Indians by then. They had defeated They had won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 hardly seven months earlier, but a monumental failure in England (0-4) had dented the pride significantly. India needed a boost in their confidence, and Sehwag provided them the shot in the arm just three days before the departure of a few senior members of the Indian cricket team to Australia, where they eventually lost 0-4.

MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar were rested ahead of the Australia tour, and Sehwag was leading the team. Sehwag had no qualms in batting first after winning the toss, and he made the intentions clear when he whacked the only second ball he faced for a boundary. The final ball of the third over sailed over the ropes when Sehwag unleashed the upper-cut, and soon got into a rhythm.

Sehwag and Gambhir — who got a lifeline in the seventh over — did not allow the West Indies to cause any damage. Instead, they kept smashing a boundary or a six every over, and mixed them up well with singles and even doubles on the small Holkar Cricket Stadium ground.

Sehwag’s half-century came on the final ball of the 15th over, when Sunil Narine was swatted for a massive six over long-on. Boundaries and sixes flowed in at will for Sehwag, who was on a roll with the West Indies looking for the first breakthrough. The first wicket fell in the 23rd over, but Sehwag had already raised his century off just 71 balls, with 10 fours and five sixes.

Suresh Raina joined Sehwag in the middle after Gambhir was run-out, and it was he who revealed the mood that the swashbuckling batsman was in. Raina revealed a few days later that Sehwag was humming Kishore Kumar songs, and it was no surprise to know that it was one of those days when nothing wrong could have gone for Sehwag.

The West Indies were clueless with Sehwag at his peak, but then, one does not have many options when players of such caliber get going. The 150-run mark was crossed in the 36th over, as at the end of that over Sehwag was on a 115-ball 160 not-out.

Think of it: To get another 40-odd runs, there were 14 overs (84 balls) left. Sehwag could have raised his double ton easily with enough time left.
But he did not wait for long. On the third delivery of the 44th over, he cut past point off Russell, took off his helmet and soaked in the moment.

Sehwag was touted to break Tendulkar’s record of double century in 50-over cricket, but no one would have thought that it would be done in less than 44 overs. With less than 150 balls consumed. Sehwag fell for 219 off mere 149 balls with 25 fours and 7 sixes in the 47th over.
The West Indies, chasing 419 to win, folded for 265, losing the game by a massive margin of 153 runs. READ: Similarities in double-hundreds of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag

It would not be incorrect to comment that Sehwag’s 219 would perhaps go down in the history as his last act of brilliance. He is yet to announce his retirement, but the chances of international comeback are as bleak as they could be.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)