Mukul Kesavan once termed him ‘Cricket’s modern Zen master’. Blessed with exceptional hand-eye coordination, Virender Sehwag has rendered the batsman’s coaching manual irrelevant with his outrageous shot-making. Where coaches never tire of getting their wards to get their feet as close to the ball, Sehwag’s game, instead, focusses entirely on dispatching the ball to the boundary.
Sehwag made his way into the Indian team first in the ODI format in 1999 as a middle- order batsman who could bowl a little bit of off-spin. He made it to the Test squad only a couple of years later, in late 2001, when India toured South Africa. In the first Test against South Africa at Bloemfontein, Sehwag celebrated his selection in the playing eleven by becoming only the eleventh Indian to score a century on debut.
Having already been promoted to open the innings in 50-over cricket, Sehwag would also be asked to carry out the same role in Test cricket, in 2002, when India toured England. It was a move that has reaped rich dividends for India, as Sehwag, since then, has bludgeoned bowling attacks all around the world, both home and away, into submission.
An intriguing aspect of Sehwag’s meteoric rise is that for a batsman whose technique is ideally suited to the shorter formats of the game, he has found more success in Test cricket. Critics may scoff at some of his shots, but his records – highest score by an Indian in Test cricket (319), the third batsman to record two triple centuries in Test cricket, the owner of the fastest 300 in Test cricket (278 deliveries) - guarantee him a place among the game’s elite. Equally jaw-dropping is the fact that of the first 7000 runs that he scored in Test cricket, 4000 came in boundaries alone.
There is no easy way to describe Sehwag’s impact on the game. Cricket writer Rahul Bhattacharya, nevertheless, captured the Sehwag phenomenon in the publication Mint: “Sehwag left them [past batting greats] for dead in the game of the 2000s. He smote improbable scores at an unthought of speed. His technique - of getting beside the ball to carve on the off - might open up a new mode of attack against the new ball; his mindset - not studying the pitch, for example - might come to be considered as an acceptable, even preferable, mental approach; and his rate of scoring may in the next decade come to be the norm.”
|Test debut||v South Africa, Bloemfontein, Nov 03, 2001|
|ODI debut||v Pakistan,Mohali, Apr 01, 1999|
|T20I debut||v South Africa, Johannesburg, Dec 01, 2006|
|IPL debut||Delhi Daredevils v Rajasthan Royals, Delhi, Apr 19, 2008|
|CLT20 debut||Delhi Dardevils v Victoria, Delhi, Oct 09, 2009|