February 19th, 2011. India versus Bangladesh. The first ball of the 2011 World Cup was about to be bowled. Virender Sehwag was the man on strike, and Shafiul Islam had the ball in his hand. Remember, it was a fifty-over game. A batsman would be perfectly forgiven if he had decided to ‘get his eye in’ in the initial overs. But then, he is Sehwag, right? And, what did he do?
Shafiul Islam bowled a short delivery just outside off stump, and Sehwag rocked onto the backfoot and creamed the first ball that he faced through the off side for four. And, through the course of the match, Sehwag absolutely destroyed Bangladesh and scored a marauding 175 off just 140 deliveries. The Indian side piled up a total of 370/4 in their allotted 50 overs. It was Virender Sehwag at his savage best.
Now, let us fast forward 10 years down the road. The year is 2021. It has been 8 years since Sehwag wore the Indian jersey. He is now 42 years old and has even started wearing spectacles. There is the tag of ‘Legends’ that is attached to the Indian side now. It is a match where all the retired cricketing greats take part. The Bangladesh Legends bat first and post a total of 109 runs on the board. And, out walk the Indian openers, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.
The Virender Sehwag special that sent the fans on a nostalgia trip
A sizeable crowd greets the arrival of the two batting greats. Considering it is a weekday, we have a good turnout. So, Virender Sehwag once again takes a strike. Mohammad Rafique has the ball in his hand. The required rate is just 5.50 runs per over. And once again, an opening batsman could be perfectly forgiven if he decides to take his time. But, what does Sehwag do?
Mohammad Rafique bowls a juicy delivery on off stump. Sehwag gets onto his front foot and smashes him through the off-side for four. A decade has passed between the 2011 World Cup and now. But nothing has changed. Sehwag’s approach to the game is exactly the same. The second ball disappears over the head of the cover, and the third ball is lofted over mid-on for six. 14 off the first 3 deliveries and Bangladesh is rattled.
And then comes the shot of the match. Off the third ball of the 2nd over, Mohammad Sharif pitches one up. Virender Sehwag lunges onto the front foot and drives him fluently past mid-off. The feet go to the pitch of the ball, the head is in perfect position, and the gap is threaded with ease. Then, comes a shot that would have taken millions of fans through a trip down memory lane. To a short delivery from Sharif, Sehwag unleashes the uppercut, and the ball sails past the third man and thuds into the stands. The crowd is on its feet.
Remember, the batsman at the other end is called the ‘God of cricket’. In the carnage that Virender Sehwag has already unleashed with the willow, you almost forget that Sachin Tendulkar is yet to face a ball in the first 2 overs. Very seldom does Sachin Tendulkar get overshadowed, but on 5th March 2021, the master took the backseat as Sehwag went into overdrive mode.
Sharif is punished once again when he pitches it short to Sehwag. The ‘Nawab of Najafgarh’ rocks onto the backfoot and smashes the cherry past point. The ball travels to the boundary like a bullet. Can you even believe that Sehwag played his last international match more than 8 years ago?
The India Legends are racing towards the target. At the end of the 4th over, the scorecard reads 51/0. Sehwag has done most of the damage and has raced to 39, while Tendulkar has scored only 12. In the next over, Sehwag reaches his half-century, and he gets there with ease. From 39, two boundaries take him to 47. And from 47, the batting legend smashes Alamgir Kabir over mid-off for six. As Sehwag raises his bat, the crowd is on its feet.
After his half-century too, there is absolutely no stopping Sehwag. Khaled Mahmud bowls a half-tracker, and in the mood that Virender Sehwag is in, he deposits him over cover for a boundary. The match has turned into a no contest, and you have to blame Sehwag for that.
And then, comes the winning shot from the willow of Sehwag. To a short delivery from Mahmud, he rocks onto the backfoot and pummels him over deep mid-wicket. The match is done. The India Legends have reached the target of 110 with 10 wickets and 9.5 overs to spare. Tendulkar has scored only 33*, and Sehwag had scored a murderous 35 ball 80*.
Virender Sehwag and his unique approach to batting
We are not done yet. It is important for us to delve into what Sehwag said at the post-match presentation.
“I was surprised that it was not a full house, but hopefully for the next game, a lot of spectators will come out and support us. Sachin told me to finish quickly and that’s why I was in a hurry. Yesterday I had a five-minute Nets session, that’s it. My batting was simple, see the ball and hit the ball. Just keep it simple,” said Sehwag after winning the Man of the Match award.
So, seems simple right? See the ball and hit the ball. Well, it is the simplicity in Sehwag’s approach to batting that has endeared him to the masses. His mind is clear. He does not try to complicate things like a lot of other batsmen do.
Sehwag’s romance with batting is an enduring one. Perhaps, even when he is 60 years old, he will still smash the first ball for a boundary. That is the way he plays. NO batsman can copy him. NO batsman can send you on a roller coaster ride the way Virender Sehwag does.
In the year 2001, when he made his Test debut, his approach to batting was the same. In the year 2011, when he smashed the first delivery of the World Cup to the boundary, his approach was the same. And, in 2021, with him well into his retired life, his approach is exactly the same. It is an approach that is patented, and finally, it is an approach that only Sehwag can take.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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