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Virender Sehwag: An Underrated Batting Great

By Orin Davidson
April 18th, 2008
Immediately upon his return to the India team, Virender Sehwag proved to the selectors a reality they should’ve grasped ever since he emerged on the Test scene.

The fact that he is a class player who should not be fooled around with, is beyond doubt now.

Sehwag cracked a stupendous Test triple century last month that placed him in exalted status no Indian batsman ever reached.

It was his second triple ton at the highest level – a feat not even India’s batting God Sachin Tendulkar has accomplished.

Not Sunil Gavaskar or Rahul Dravid either..

Such talent you don’t acquire in every generation and should make a player an automatic selection for his team every time.

Yet for Sehwag he has suffered the same faith many of his ilk in the past – the decision makers’ inability to appreciate his ability or their reluctance to accept it.

Not every batsman can score a triple century at Test level, which should’ve been an early cue for him to be nurtured him in the team through thick and thin, because you know he can come good at any time.

Sehwag, though is of such talent and more.

He is also a very good off spin bowler that suggests a natural ability of an individual born to play cricket.

All the batsmen with triple centuries in their careers are some of the sport’s best talents.

Brian Lara has three world records and Sir Donald Bradman is the holder of that phenomenal Test record of 99 runs per innings.

Sehwag joins those two super great batsman as only the third player ever to notch two triple centuries in Tests.

And among the 19 others to accomplish the three-figure mark you have Garry Sobers, considered the greatest all-rounder every to grace a cricket field and Haniff Mohamed, deemed Pakistan’s greatest of all players. There is also Lawrence Rowe considered the most elegant of them all.

Sehwag, though is among the hardest hitters of those triple centurions.

He combines the gift of wristiness of Asian players and power unheard of for players from the sub continent. It makes him one of the world’s most exciting player of the modern era.

It helped him post the world‘s fastest ever triple century which he hammered off the South African bowlers this month in Chennai. His 319 makes him the holder of the two highest scores made by any Indian player.

Because no other from the country with the world’s largest cricket population several times over, has made a triple century, Sehwag’s 309 four years ago, stands him head and shoulders above the rest, when big scores are taken into consideration.

And you wonder why he is not talked about in the same breathe of Tendulkar and Dravid.

Possibly the fact that he brawls in the boxer’s mold rather than fashioning his style more in the elegance Tendulkar’s, makes him less of a favorite among the purists.

Yet any poll among the masses of Indian cricket, the fans who flock the stands at Calcutta, Mumbai, and Bangalore, would have Sehwag right up there with the “Mumbai Maestro”.

They are the ones who relish the fours and sixes with satisfying regularity. It does not matter whether they are executed with horizontal or bats or through the covers or third man and point.

Sehwag also has the unique credential that separates most ordinary batsman from the great ones.

He is one of the few elites to score a century a Test century on debut. And the 105 was scored in Bloemfontein, South Africa, not on home soil on the mostly flat slow pitches, rather on the fast bouncy tracks against a country considered second best only to Australia at the time seven years ago.

The fact that he came within one run of notching a century in one session, which was also done away from home in the West Indies, is testament to the right hander’s quality.

He is far from being classified a “home made bread” type who flinch from fast bowling on the bouncier stripes away from India.

Sehwag who once pattered himself after his great idol Tendulkar, has not rivaled him so far in consistency of runs, but is a better appetite for big scores.

Apart from his two triple centuries he has two “doubles” and a 195 he plundered off Australia in the caldron in Melbourne, among his 14 three-figure mark scores.

It helped the New Delhi assassin become the fastest to reach 3000 Test runs among his compatriots , Tendulkar included
Outside of Bradman, he is the only batsman to score seven tons consecutively over 150.

With such credentials including an over 50 Test average, you wonder why Sehwag was dropped for an extended period in late 2006 and almost missed the 2007 World Cup after not picked in the original squad.

Maybe the Indian selectors have finally gotten it, now that Sehwag has written his name in the record books once again.

Hopefully the captains won’t forget he can bowl too.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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