“The Nawab of Najafgarh’, ‘The sultan of Multan’ are some of the adjectives that ‘Viru’ Virender Sehwag had earned through his sterling career . A boy what a career he had for Team India. As he turns 39 today, one thing comes to one’s mind when one talks about Sehwag is that he did things his own way. And there was no thinking back in his dictionary. How many batsmen in world cricket would have the guts to go on and hit sixes when approaching a 100 and a triple hundred at Multan 2004 against Pakistan? Nobody would ever dream of. That was Viru, Fearless and audacious.
Attributes that were to become hallmark of his batting in the years to follow and make his one of the games truly greats . He was a nightmare for the bowlers round the world. And he has left an indelible mark at the top of the order for India. His records show that . Sehwag played 104 Tests scoring 8586 runs at an impressive average of 49.34, hitting 23 centuries and 32 half-centuries. He is the only triple centurion in Tests for India having scored career-best knock of 319 against Pakistan at Multan, which also is an Indian record. He scored two triple tons with his next one (309) coming against South Africa. In 251 ODIs, he scored 8273 runs at an average of 35.05 and scored 15 hundreds apart from hitting 38 fifties. He won two World Cups as a player — 2007 World T20 in South Africa and the ICC Cricket World Cup in India 2011.
But Sehwag was much more than the statistics say in the middle. He was the batsman who set the tempo for the likes of “The Wall” Rahul Dravid , ‘Genius’ Sachin Tendulkar, and classy VVS Laxman who took control of the match for India after a typical Viru blitz . He took the new ball bowlers with his daring audacious stroke-play, upsetting their rhythm and helped Team India post a big total many a time. And he did that with regular consistency at home and abroad . And hence I would no doubt without any blink of an eye term his India’s greatest match- winner. After all ,which batsman in world cricket would hammer the bowlers while humming the legendary Kishore Kumar songs while batting? Guess No one . Viru often said that he never felt the pressure while batting as he knew after him for Team India there was the ‘ The Wall “ Rahul Dravid to take the pressure off. This is Virender Sehwag for you candid and blunt.
He has given us some truly wonderful moments with his batting prowess. There are many instances where he single- handedly changed the complexion of the game with his style of play. In career loaded with great moments there some which stands out and established Sehwag as a legend in his own inimitable way – One of them is the stunning triple ton at Multan 2004 . The way he hammered the Pakistani bowlers was a treat to watch. When Sehwag hits it stays hit. The Sehwag demolition of Pakistan in 2004 reminds me of the similar destruction at Centurion during the World Cup clash against Pakistan in 2003. Along with maestro Sachin Tendulkar, one vividly recollects how Viru treated with utter disdain two of Pakistan cricket’s and world’s most fearsome combination of the two Ws- Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. It was phenomenal batting. The trio hurled all they had in their armoury but Viru had answer for them .
Indian batting are always under scrutiny when they play abroad. But in 2003 Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, First day , Sehwag gave the Aussies the taste of their own medicine. He scored a blistering 195 of 233 ball studded with 25 fours and 5 sixes. The manner in which hammered the Aussie bowlers was a great sight. Even good length balls were dispatched to fence with ease and something loose was hit over the top with power . This was Sehwag at his very best. He terrorized the bowlers. Bowlers round the world knew The Sehwag factor for Team India .
When India won the World Cup in 2011, after having lost in the first round in Bangladesh in 2007 , India took on Bangladesh in the opener at Dhaka. Sehwag was under intense criticism when India crashed out to Bangladesh in 2007. So in the revenge match, Sehwag exploded with all guns blazing. He gave enough intent to rivals how India wanted the World Cup in 2011 at home. He hit the helpless Bangladesh bowlers all round the park sending the large capacity crowd stunned and silent. He was like a wounded tiger in the middle. He began the first ball of the tournament with a four and the rest is history. It was an astonishing innings of 175 and with then young Virat Kohli , also smashing a powerful ton ,India took a sweet revenge for the 2007 loss.
Besides being great player what made Sehwag truly endearing was that he was always affable and a nice human being. Off the field he has made everyone laugh with his witty tweets. Tweets that has earned him huge fan following.
He was sportsman in true sense. There was never a hit of arrogance or rudeness about him. He never sledged any anyone nor did he flaunt his aggressive persona overtly. He was cool calm composed and destructive. He formed a superb opening combination with the great Sachin Tendulkar and later on with his long- time Delhi and close friend Gautam Gambhir .
It was sheer joy watching him bat and belt the bowlers all over. His ruthless ability to treat bowling with ease could be seen at the IPL too for whichever team he played , Delhi Daredevils or The Kings XI Punjab. Sehwag many a time rolled back years playing for these teams by playing scintillating cameos. Reminding the kind of player he was and how much the bowlers feared him. Iam quite sure there were be bowlers round the world heaving a huge sigh of relief when he retired because their most lethal tormentor has called it a day on his own terms. And leaving with a powerful impact.