The year was 2004. The place was Multan. The date was March 29, the day when the Nawab of Nafargarh decided to become the Sultan of Multan. It was a fateful day for the Pakistanis, something the hapless players would love to forget. It was a day when hell broke loose. It was a day, when Virender Sehwag was in the form of his life. He massacred the bowlers leaving them clueless.
The innings of 309 is regarded to one the best of all time. It was crafted with fluency, eloquence and class. Each shot that came out of the bat was sweetly timed and left the crowd speechless. Sehwag has always been well known for his audacious approach towards his batting. His batting principle has always been simple,” attack anything that comes towards me”. This has been his greatest blessing and curse.
Sehwag, due to his unorthodox approach, is the last person one would expect a long innings from. But he proved everyone wrong by batting for 531 minutes in two days! Each six that he hit, came when he was one shot away from a milestone. He slowly broke Gavaskar’s record, then Laxman’s.
Then came the triple century! The golden moment came when Suqlain Mustaq was lofted for a huge six. Every ball thrown at him was being treated with brutality. It was a day when Sehwag showed the world, the true strength of his character.
Sehwag has been known as a man full of surprises.
The last thing on peoples mind was an encore! And Sehwag did just that. He followed up the 309 with another exceptional innings of 319 in just 304 balls.
He was on fire. Beautiful foot moments, elegant follow-through, perfect timing, you name it. Sehwag has now become the hallmark of opening.
He has the dubious distinction of being the only player in the world to have scored two double hundreds and taking 5 wickets.
His cheek and humor on field is thrilling for the youngsters. He is the idol for Gautam Gambhir, who is his opening pair. He has become indispensible and shown how gutsy he is. Plagued with injury woes and poor form, he was even dropped from the Indian side in 2007, but came back strongly and performed to his caliber.
He is the only cricketer in the world to have won the prestigious Wisden Cricketer of the year award twice.
Brute force? It’s Sehwag.
In the years that he has played, growth has been substantial. Patience, elegance and foot movement that he had lacked earlier as a player had all come to him. He was once known for his powerful swing of the bat that compensated for his foot movement, he now is acknowledged as an elegant player as well.
Powerful shots, sweet timing of the bat and excellent follow through of the bat now defines his art. He is a player who used to last a few overs, demolish the player in that short span and get out trying to attack a ball. But now that strategy has changed and his gameplay is more refined, with him being more patient with good balls and yet striking the less effective ones have made him a standard opener with no substitute.
So, it’s Virender Sehwag that I admire the most, among all sportsmen because of his unflinching attitude, and entertaining style. ‘Fortune favors the brave’, and he is a living testimony.