Virender Sehwag is probably present in everyone’s dream Test XI as he was perhaps one of the most destructive openers of his time in the longest format of the game.
He played 104 Tests, made 8586 runs with 23 centuries, including two triple hundreds, at an average of 49.34 and a best of 319. He also featured in 251 ODI games for India, scoring 8273 runs with 15 centuries, including a best of 219 and average of 35.05. He also played 19 ODIs
Sehwag’s influence on the Indian team is big as his aggressive batting enabled India to chase down huge totals in Test cricket and even set up matches, most notably the Chennai Test match against England in 2008.
Kumar Sangakkara, in his series “Titans of cricket” on Wisden.com, paid tribute to one of the best batsmen of the modern era.
Sangakkara writes,” I’ve been a great admirer of Virender Sehwag ever since I first saw him play. Not just because of his phenomenal ability, but because his mindset was all about scoring runs as quickly as humanly possible.”
He elaborates further, “This is a very rare feature in most batsmen. While most of them are content to accumulate runs in a considered and structured manner, with Sehwag, it was about getting to that position of dominance from ball one of his innings in as short a time as possible. Sehwag was never a player to think about his average or records; his one and only ambition were to score runs for his side, score them quickly, and end up on the winning side as a result.”
“His technique was very simple, based around a great eye, high and free hands, minimal footwork, great balance, and excellent wrists. He would always try to open up the off-side, to get the bowlers bowling at the stumps because the stumps for him didn’t exist; he just had a bat in his hands to hit the ball, gaps in the field to penetrate, and a boundary to find,” Sangakkara writes about Sehwag.
Sangakkara also wrote about two of his favorite Sehwag innings.
He wrote, “There are two innings that particularly stand out. The first, in 2008 at Galle, was the most impressive innings of his that I’ve ever seen and it falls into the same category of performance as Brian Lara scoring 688 runs against us in a series. India came into the game 1-0 down in the series, Ajantha Mendis having run through them at the SSC on his debut. Every Indian batsman was being bamboozled by Murali and Mendis, but Virender came out all guns blazing. He carried his bat for 201 from 231 balls in a total of 329 in a side full of legends.”
“And then in 2009 at Mumbai he put the match beyond us with a wonderful innings where he again took most of our bowlers to task, and with the pace he scored the runs – his 293 came from just 254 balls – it meant that India had the time to win the game despite us scoring more than 700 runs in the game,” he added.
Sangakkara writes, “Virender stood out because he came out and didn’t worry about reading Mendis or Murali. It was a masterclass of aggressive batting. There was not a single area of the field that he didn’t hit a shot to; if ever he was in trouble and he couldn’t read the ball, he would just extend the arms and take the ball through or over the boundary.”
“To me Virender Sehwag is great because he walked out to bat with only one thing in mind and that was to be the man to put India into a winning position,” Sangakkara concludes,
(inputs from wisden.com)