Three cheers once again
In 2004, he
became the first Indian to score a triple century. This year, he
became the third cricketer in the world, after Sir Don Bradman
and Brian Lara, to have two triple hundreds to his credit.
Chatterjee on attacking batsman Virender Sehwag’s
Exactly four years
ago Delhi batsman Virender Sehwag walked into the record books
with a triple hundred, completed characteristically with a six,
against Pakistan at Multan. That was no ordinary knock. No
Indian, neither the greatest Indian batsman of all times, Sunil
Gavaskar, nor "master blaster" Sachin Tendulkar, had
reached the landmark. (And an insider says the only reason why
Tendulkar does not yet talk of calling it a day is the fact that
he desperately wants to have a triple century against his name
so that he can better his role model Gavaskar).
That knock more
than anything else that Sehwag had done till then, catapulted
him into Indian cricket’s hall of fame. But the gutsy Delhi
batsman went one better at Chennai on March 28 this year — he
hammered the South African bowling all over the Chepauk stadium
to record his second 300-plus knock and became the third batsman
in the world to have attained this feat. And, whatever his
critics may say, he still has a lot of cricket left in him.
The Chennai knock
saw Sehwag joining the legendary Don Bradman, who has scores of
334 against England in 1930 and 304 against the same rivals at
Headingley four years later. Joining Bradman decades later was
Brian Lara with scores of 375 against England at Antigua in the
1993-94 season and yet another knock of 400 not out against the
same team at the same venue in the 2003-04 season. Sehwag is
thus the only batsman who has scored his triple hundreds against
different opponents, Pakistan and then South Africa.
Of the two scores
in two different venues against two bowling attacks of different
nature, Sehwag says the Chennai knock was more difficult.
"In Multan the wicket was better than the one at Chennai
and the conditions were not hot and humid when we played there.
I don't think I showed so much patience and concentration in
Pakistan. I wanted to prove to myself that I belong here, and
there is no better way than playing a big knock and scoring a
triple century," he has been quoted as saying.
after the Herculean effort that being dropped from the India
squad last year motivated him to do better. After a string of
poor scores, Sehwag was dropped from the Test team to Bangladesh
and was not considered for either the Test or One-Day side to
England. But the disappointment of being dropped did not
demoralise him. He went to play domestic cricket with a
vengeance and further honed his temperament and cricketing
In fact, everybody
was surprised when he was picked for the tour of Australia after
not finding a place even among the probables announced earlier.
Sehwag had to wait
for two matches before he made a strong comeback in the Perth
Test with scores of 29 and 43 and a haul of two wickets in
Australia's second innings to play a keen role in India's
historic win. He came into form in the Adelaide Test where he
scored 63 and 151, to help India draw the match. And, his
Chennai effort was just a continuation of what he had started in
But more than his
big knocks, Sehwag is a star who is looked up to by many
cricketers. Players believe that if Sehwag could make it big
there is no reason why they too cannot do the same. After all,
most of India's earlier cricket heroes came from affluent or
middle class backgrounds, and attended English-medium schools.
They also honed their cricketing skills in state-of-the-art
academies. But Sehwag was different.
Sehwag is a
typical player from a lower middle class family who has got
everything in life from cricket. Sehwag was lucky that his
parents could afford the Rs-100 fee charged by the
government-owned cricket coaching centre where he learnt the
basics of the game under N.A. Sharma. Today, Sehwag misses his
father (who died in October last year) the most and he remains
in touch with his mother wherever he might be playing. He often
goes back to his old neighbourhood of Najafgarh on the outskirts
of Delhi and mingles with the cricket trainees at his old
coaching centre. He probably knows that the hunger to do well is
ingrained in these boys much more than their more affluent
When Sehwag hit
the international arena in a One-Day match against Pakistan at
the PCA at Mohali in 1999, his batting was fast and furious. He
made his Test debut against South Africa at Bloemfontein on
November 3, 2001, and celebrated the occasion with a century. At
Chennai, he needed just 278 deliveries to reach his 300-run
feat, a record other batsmen may find difficult to emulate. In
fact, he completed his 100, his 200 as also his 300 (309 to be
exact) on the same day. It is doubtful whether any other
batsman, even Don, has such a knock against his name. Hayden
took 362 deliveries to reach his triple century against Zimbabwe
at Perth. While there is no record of the deliveries faced by
the other triple century makers in cricket, it is estimated that
Hammond of England needed 355 deliveries to reach his 300
against New Zealand in the 1932-33 series.
The most striking
feature of Sehwag's batting is the ease with which he dispatches
balls all round the wicket. In the 14 innings in which he has
scored a century, his strike rate has been 77.79. Among batsmen
with at least 10 Test hundreds, only Australian wicketkeeper
Adam Gilchrist has a faster strike rate in centuries (99.64).
The fact that Sehwag's overall career strike rate is 75 also
reveals his tendency to bat with the same tempo regardless of
his score. During the last tour of the West Indies, he came
excruciatingly close to scoring a century before lunch on the
first day of the Test at St Lucia, something never accomplished
by an Indian batsman.
By the time he had
scored his first century in One-Day cricket (a furious effort
off 70 balls against New Zealand) and Test cricket, as mentioned
earlier against South Africa, Sehwag was compared with Tendulkar.
But he leaves the maestro far behind when it comes to audacity.
Asked to open the innings in the 2002 Test tour of England,
Sehwag proved an instant hit, cracking 80 and 100 in the first
continued to dominate the Test arena, his One-Day form dipped
dramatically. After January 2004, he went through 60 matches
where he averaged just 29. He has now made a comeback into the
One-Day squad and in-between also played a role in India's win
in the Twenty20 World Championship. And the Chennai knock must
have given a huge boost to his confidence.
The most striking
feature of his batting is the ease with which he sends the ball
to all parts of the ground and beyond. It is this ability which
has stood him in good stead ever since he burst on the
international stage. And this, indeed, is his most enduring