Virender Sehwag


Personal Information
Oct 20, 1978 (45 years)
Birth Place
5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Batting Style
Right Handed Bat
Bowling Style
Right-arm offbreak
ICC Rankings
Career Information
India, Asia XI, Delhi, Delhi Capitals, ICC World XI, India Blue, Northamptonshire, North Zone, Rest of India, India A, Punjab Kings, Rest of the World XI, Haryana, Sachin Blasters, Gemini Arabians, India Legends, India Maharajas, Gujarat Giant
In a Nutshell
In a nation that has an affinity towards premature regret, playing it safe is an inherent attribute instilled in their decision-making. India tends to opt f...
Full profile
Batting Career Summary
M Inn NO Runs HS Avg BF SR 100 200 50 4s 6s
Test 104 180 6 8586 319 49.34 10441 82.23 23 6 32 1233 91
ODI 251 245 9 8273 219 35.06 7929 104.34 15 1 38 1132 136
T20I 19 18 0 394 68 21.89 271 145.39 0 0 2 43 16
IPL 104 104 5 2728 122 27.56 1755 155.44 2 0 16 334 106
Bowling Career Summary
M Inn B Runs Wkts BBI BBM Econ Avg SR 5W 10W
Test 104 91 3731 1894 40 5/104 5/118 3.05 47.35 93.28 1 0
ODI 251 146 4392 3853 96 4/6 4/6 5.26 40.14 45.75 0 0
T20I 19 1 6 20 0 0/20 0/20 20.0 0.0 0.0 0 0
IPL 104 15 136 235 6 2/18 2/18 10.37 39.17 22.67 0 0
Career Information
In a Nutshell
In a nation that has an affinity towards premature regret, playing it safe is an inherent attribute instilled in their decision-making. India tends to opt for the orthodox investment choice that offers returns and contentment in the short term over the maverick idea that could potentially change the game. This sensible, if potentially short-sighted approach has produced many a talent in Indian cricket. Nevertheless, India is also a nation that loves a good story, and consequently, every so often, it regurgitates a few outliers. A polio-stricken turbo-legspinner, a precocious 16-year-old man-child, and more recently, a gloveman with the most astute, un-Indian audacity. Similarly, around the turn of the millennium, a short-statured batsman from the wilds of Najafgarh had emerged as an explosive batsman and was slated to play a newly introduced slog-fest in Hong Kong as the Indian team got ready for its dreaded tour to South Africa.

Induction into Test Cricket
As fate would have it, after some selection shenanigans, the backing of some ex-cricketers like Madan Lal and Jaywant Lele, and Sourav Ganguly's non-selection due to slow over-rate against South Africa, the universe managed to tweak destiny for yet another nonconformist to make his entry into Indian cricket: Virender Sehwag found himself in the Indian dressing room of the Bloemfontein cricket ground in Free State, South Africa, being presented Test cap #239 for India, and awaiting his turn to wield the willow.

As Virender Sehwag, then fond of short-sleeved shirts, joined his idol Sachin Tendulkar on the center strip at the Mangaung Oval, the standard definition generation suddenly found it difficult to spot the difference between the strokeplay of the two. The uncanny resemblance between their compact and punchy strokeplay (which was no coincidence, as Sehwag later admitted), was of no help to those trying to tell them apart, and nor was their similar stature. The man who bats like Tendulkar: this caused a wave of excitement in the Indian masses, as Sehwag started to take apart the famed South African bowling along with the master at the other end. There were check-drives, cover drives, flicks, and even the signature late-cuts and an early rendition of the upper-cut which would later go on to become a defining shot. According to experts, Sehwag has an inexplicable ability to render any technical analysis useless, and in turn, to make the situation, the bowler and the pitch seem irrelevant. With his nonchalant approach at the crease, it is ironic that all the attention is centered around him when he is at the crease.

Style of Play
Given the prerequisite of his talent, hand-eye coordination et al, Sehwag's approach to batting is based on a simple philosophy and a disability: the philosophy is that of sighting the ball and hitting the ball, and allow the rest of his body to follow his hands: transfer-of-weight batting over reach-the-pitch batting, a theoretically plausible form of batting which was deemed impractical against express-pace and quality bowling, until Virender Sehwag entered the game. The disability was his non-possession of the last-ball syndrome: Regardless of the events of the previous ball, he was capable of focusing on the next delivery unperturbed by the match situation or anxiety. Yet, he had the anticipation that defines every great batsman.

Due to his style of play, Sehwag was initially typecast as a limited-overs specialist, and had to wait two years after making his ODI debut to play a Test match, but in an ironic twist of fate, it is his Test record that is far more imposing, while he has not done justice to his enormous talent in One Day Internationals. After some middling performances when he came into the scene initially, Sehwag exploded when sent in to open the innings against New Zealand in his 15th ODI, scoring a century off 69 balls and announcing himself to the world.

His strike-rate in ODIs is second only to Shahid Afridi amongst the batsmen who have scored at least 1000 runs, but his average of just 34 runs is far below his Test match average of 49.34. In ODIs, Sehwag has always threatened to take the match away from the opposition, but not done it often enough, residing to being the top-order cameo player and hammering the leather off the ball to make life easier for the middle-order. Even so, he held the record for the fastest ODI hundred by an Indian (off 60 balls) for 4 years before Virat Kohli stormed past it in the sixathon series against Australia in 2013. Furthermore, in December 2011, Sehwag scored a remarkable 219 in an ODI against the West Indies at Indore, which was only the 2nd ODI double-hundred at the time, and the highest ever score in ODIs until Rohit Sharma blazed past it during his epic 264 in late 2014.

Revolutionizing the 'Test Opener'
His Test record, however, set him apart and truly stumped the great minds of the game. After being type-cast as a limited-overs player due to his aggressive and unorthodox approach at the crease, the astute mind of Sourav Ganguly perhaps saw something that no one else did and Sehwag was thrust into the opening role along with Sanjay Bangar on the tour to England in 2002. On a seaming green-top in Nottingham with the home-owners breathing down his neck, Sehwag used his simple, compact technique to give himself enough time for the ball to come on to him, and nullified all new-ball woes with a fantastic 105 in the first innings and made the spot his own.

Sehwag continued to redefine the opener's role at the Test level, with a golden run of form after he was thrust into the top-order. After a hundred against the West Indies at home, Sehwag made the Boxing Day Test of 2003 his own with an attacking hundred at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and fell just five short of his first double hundred in Tests whilst trying to clear the mid-wicket boundary to get there. Nevertheless, such was the audacity of the man, that only a few months later, when on 297* against Pakistan in Multan, Sehwag hoisted Saqlain Mushtaq for six to bring an end to a 72-year-old wait and became India's first ever triple-centurion in Test cricket.

A penchant for 'daddy' hundreds was a defining part of his Test career, with 13 out of 23 Test centuries in excess of 150. Sehwag went onto make another triple hundred, as the visiting Proteas facing his wrath in the sapping heat of Chennai in March 2008: a phenomenal feat against an attack consisting of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini at the peak of their fitness; not to mention the fact that this was the fastest triple-hundred in the history of Test cricket as he joined an elite list of players who have scored 2 Test triple-hundreds: only behind Sir Donald George Bradman and Brian Charles Lara.

In 2006, during India's tour of Pakistan, Sehwag combined with Rahul Dravid to score a phenomenal and chanceless 254 on the way to a 410-run partnership, just falling short of the record for the highest first wicket stand set by Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy almost 50 years ago. The Times of India frontpage on the following day listed the records that Sehwag could break the following day, which included that of Brian Lara's 400* - such was the flow Sehwag was in at Lahore. Sehwag's form faded away over the course of the year, and he was subsequently dropped from the Test side in late 2007. He missed the tour of England and most of the tour Down under as well. However, in the wake of the Monkeygate incident, Sehwag was recalled for the final Test at Adelaide where he stormed back into form with an uncharacteristically patient 151 from 236 balls to draw a Test which India were in danger of losing. He retained his spot in the side and thus started the Gambhir-Sehwag opening partnership that ruled Indian cricket for a few years since.

In December 2009, during Brabourne's first Test match in 36 years, Sehwag welcomed the historic ground back in style by lacing 284* in two and a half sessions on Day 2. On a dry and spinning track. he toyed around with an attack consisting of Rangana Herath and Muttiah Muralitharan, hammering 202 runs off boundaries alone (40 fours, 7 sixes). He could only add 9 to his overnight total and fell short of a historic third triple-hundred by 7 runs. Sehwa1g walked back, mildly annoyed, as India won the Test by an innings and consequently received the Test championship mace. A nation rued the near miss by Sehwag, but the man himself remained typically carefree as suggested by his words at the end of the day's play: 'Not many people have got two triple centuries and followed that with 293.'

Sehwag had a golden year in 2010, as he took apart bowling attacks in a year with a phethora of home series. He started off with South Africa, taking their attack apart in a scintillating 165 in Kolkata as India went on to win a thrilling Test in the last session to draw the series. A string of excellent performances saw him win the most prestigious award in Test cricket: the ICC Test Player of the Year as he went into the World Cup of 2011 in sublime form and formed a formidable partnership with Sachin Tendulkar, laying into bowling attacks and hammering the new ball out of shape. His famous streak of first-ball fours in the World Cup to put India firmly in control from ball 1 started on the first ball of tournament as he flayed Shafiul Islam for four against Bangladesh to start with, on his way to an explosive 175. He played other innings of note too, including a 73 against South Africa to set the tone for a tornado even Steyn and co. didn't see coming and a momentum-changing 38 in the semi-final, in which he hammered Pakistan's best bowler, Umar Gul, for four fours in an over and handed India the momentum in a relatively low-scoring game which they went on to win.

Tryst with Injuries
A persistent shoulder injury meant that Sehwag slowly started to lose his form overseas, and his shoulder-dominant reach-out-and-hit shots were no longer good enough in pacier and bouncier tracks like South Africa, and in seaming conditions like England. He continued to be a major force in the subcontinent, though, and played a handsome role in India's 2011 World Cup triumph. He set the platform for the campaign with a blistering 175 against Bangladesh in Dhaka and played important, tone-setting knocks throughout the tournament by throwing opening bowlers off their game by hitting them for fours off the first ball of the innings. His opening stand of 145 with Tendulkar against South Africa was vital, as he scored a quick 73, only for the middle order to capsize at the death. One of his more underrated innings was the 25-ball 38 on an initially seaming and subsequently turning track in the semifinal against Pakistan, where he hammered Pakistan's spearhead Umar Gul for five boundaries in his second over and broke his confidence.

In the hangover of the 2011 World Cup triumph, his injury aggravated and there were questions asked of his fitness and his performance. In his last 20 appearances he managed just one score of hundred of more, a stat that reflected India's poor run in Test cricket during the period. His shoulder injury and deteriorating eyesight were starting to affect his game, particularly in the bouncier and faster away conditions. Nevertheless, Sehwag was called back, mid-injury, for the Manchester Test in 2011 as an emergency measure only to be dismissed for a king pair as India went on to be whitewashed 0-4 in England. In the subsequent 0-4 whitewash in Australia later that year, he was one of the better batsmen as he scored two fifties (in Melbourne and Adelaide) and managed to cling onto his place in the side. The ageing titans of Indian cricket came into serious question after they were beaten 1-2 in their own backyard by England in late 2012, but Sehwag got a final chance and was retained in the side for the home Test series against Australia, based on his hundred in Ahmedabad against England. Alas, a string of poor scores meant he was forced out of the side for the last two Tests - and we never saw him in the off-whites again.

The Twilight
He went back to the domestic circuit in a quest to regain his spot in the national side but couldn't quite manage the wizardry of old. Sehwag played for Delhi Daredevils since the inception of the IPL till the 6th edition, but the franchise decided not to retain him for the 7th. After his Test retirement, he went into the auctions pool and was signed by Kings XI Punjab and performed admirably for them with a 58-ball 122 in the eliminator of the 2014 IPL which drove the franchise into its inaugural final. The following IPL, a disappointing tournament for Sehwag, was his final season as he took over the management of the Punjab franchise.

He called it quits from all competitive cricket on the 20th of October 2015, his 37th birthday, drawing a curtain on a decorated career that saw several highs and lows. World Cups, king pairs, triple-hundreds and whitewashes. Qualitatively speaking, despite being able to play out challenging phases of play against the new ball, he was ousted from the Test team due to lack of big scores in the twilight of his career. It's certainly a question of a closer inspection and qualitative analysis in a country obsessed with statistics and has no place for assisting batsmen. When asked to comment on his ouster and never donning the India colours again and his tryst with the one-dimensional selection committee, Sehwag signed off with typically blithe disregard and a carefree rhetorical question: 'And whose loss is that?'

By Rishi Roy
As of 14th July 2018
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