SEHWAG'S PROFILE | Virender Sehwag(Viru)-Indian Cricketer

Friday, July 31, 2009


Virender Sehwag is a primal talent whose rough edges make him all the more appealing. By the time he had scored his first centuries in one-day cricket (off 70 balls, against New Zealand) and Test cricket (on debut, against South Africa, from 68 for 4), he was already eliciting comparisons with his idol Sachin Tendulkar. It is half true. Like Tendulkar, he is short and square with curly hair, plays the straight drive, backfoot punch and whip off the hips identically, but leaves Tendulkar in the shade when it comes to audacity.
Asked to open the innings in Tests on the tour of England in 2002, Sehwag proved an instant hit, cracking an 80 and a 100 in the first two matches. Regularly thereafter, he kept conjuring pivotal innings at the top of the order, none as significant as India's first 300 (which he bought up, characteristically, with a six), at Multan against Pakistan in early 2004.
Sehwag bowls effective, loopy offspin, and is a reliable catcher in the slips. He also once almost split the cricket world: when he was banned for a match by the ICC referee Mike Denness on grounds of excessive appealing, the Indian board wasn't prepared to listen, and even played an unofficial Test with South Africa to prove a point. When a compromise was finally reached, Sehwag was back to his merry ways.
Though he continued to dominate in the Test arena, Sehwag's one-day form dipped alarmingly - after January 2004, he went through a period of 60 matches where he averaged under 29. Despite his fitness levels dropping and his one-day spot being under threat - he was dropped from the side for the home series against West Indies in early 2007 - Sehwag continued to sparkle in Tests, as shown by his magnificent 254 at Lahore. In June, he came excruciatingly close to scoring a century before lunch in the first day against West Indies in St Lucia, a feat never accomplished before by an Indian batsman.
After a string of poor scores, Sehwag was dropped from India's Test squad to Bangladesh in 2007, and was not considered for either the Test or ODI sides to England. He was a surprise pick for the Test team to tour Australia after not being named in the initial list of probables.
Sehwag had to wait for two matches before he made a strong comeback in the Perth Test, where he gave the innings' momentum with knocks of 29 and 43, and took two wickets with his offspin in Australia's second innings, to help India claim one of their greatest wins. He followed it up with scores of 63 and an imperious 151 - his first century in the team's second innings - to help India draw the Test in Adelaide. Then, in the first Test against South Africa in Chennai, he made an even more emphatic statement, rattling off the quickest triple-century in Test cricket, off just 278 balls. He eventually made 319 - the highest score by an Indian - and in the process became only the third batsman, after Don Bradman and Brian Lara, to pass 300 twice in Tests. In his next Test series against Sri Lanka in 2008, Sehwag thrived while the Indian middle-order struggled against the mystery spin of Ajantha Mendis. His double-hundred and half-century were instrumental in India winning the Galle Test.

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