Virender Sehwag was in a league of his own. A one man tribe in all respects. Who defied all the grammar and syntax of batting, yet in the most simplistic approach – a ball that needs to be hit, should be hit. No matter who the bowler is, or the opposition, or where the match is played. Even the colour of the ball did not matter, as if it needs to be hit, it will be hit. Be it, T20, ODI, or Test Cricket. Be it the first ball of the match, or the last. Be it the first runs being scored or the 300th. Virender Sehwag was great.
Such was his uncluttered approach to batting, that changed many a game, upside down to the raptures of the cricket loving public, that even his role model, Sachin Tendulkar, would pay and go to watch him play. Often from the best seat, that is at the non-striker’s end! Gifted with tremendous hand-eye co-ordination, he made up for his lack of footwork and other obvious weaknesses in his techniques with this simple and straightforward approach to batting that more often than not paid rich dividends. Like the many fabled events like how he struck a ball out of the ground to tackle reverse swing, that forced a change of ball, he was truly a game changer. Virender Sehwag was great.
Virender Sehwag’s unmatched fearlessness and ability to strike the ball, always upset the rhythm of even the best of bowlers around the world and made the opposition team going into the defensive from the very first over. His flurry of boundaries in one over of Umar Gul in 2011 Word Cup semi finals changed the whole complexion of the game right at the very beginning. Though he got out quickly after that, and we lost quick wickets soon after, that one over had created enough dent in Pakistan’s confidence that eventually helped us win the match. Likewise how he turned the game in our favour with a blitzkrieg half century in the second innings in Chennai Test match against England in 2008, on an unplayable wicket. Though Sachin scored a century, and along with Yuvraj won us the match, if not for Virender Sehwag’s start, that match could have been drawn or even lost by us. Such is his impact on the opposition even with a cameo. Then think about all those double hundreds and the two triple tons he scored in Test cricket, a unique feat no other Indian batsman has ever achieved so far. Not even Tendulkar. Virender Sehwag was great.
However, his batting most suited the Test cricket, ironically, though it should have been in the ODIs or limited overs cricket. For almost the same number of runs scored in both formats, his average is much superior in Test than in ODIs. One of the reasons was his tendency to play on the up and in Test matches, given the field placements, there were more openings for him to take advantage of. Not so in limited overs cricket with a more defensive and spread out field. Yet he would not adjust his playing style to suit the conditions or the type of game, that also often resulted in he getting out quite cheaply and very early in the innings, which during the later years in his career appeared a bit reckless. Though his critics would find fault in his ways, he never bothered and continued with his approach until the last game that he played. Virender Sehwag was great.
This lack of nervousness made batting look so easy when he was on song, and also made him look taking it too easy, when he wasn’t. It was a double edged sword, but he was more prepared to live by it. And die by it. That makes one wonder, if it was the best thing to do, as adaptability is one of the key skills that is necessary as one ages and loses touch. But for Virender Sehwag, that would be compromising and perhaps much less productive approach to change the way he batted. So we would never know, if it could have been any different, had he tried to play a bit more cautiously, and perhaps because of that, if he could have been lot more successful. Because he simply wouldn’t. And that makes him one of the kind and puts him in a league of his own. Unmatched and peerless in the way he played his game. Virender Sehwag was great.
Which was so evident when he signed off also in the same style. As he wrote today in his announcement – “I also want to thank everyone for all the cricketing advice given to me over the years and I apologize for not accepting most of it! I had a reason for not following it; I did it my way!” Virender Sehwag was great.
That is Virender Sehwag for you. Always entertaining us. In his way. Virender Sehwag was great.