Virender Sehwag Has Few Parallels in Cricket

Virender Sehwag's swashbuckling innings

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Virender Sehwag's swashbuckling innings

Virender Sehwag's swashbuckling innings
Virender Sehwag's swashbuckling innings | Source

Virender Sehwag's swashbuckling innings

Today’s Indore is famous for pan chewing

I watched Indian opening batsman Virender Sehwag’s swashbuckling knock of 219 played against West Indies at Indore in Madhya Pradesh State of India. Indore was once upon the capital of the game of cricket. Cricket thrived and prospered in Indore thanks to the patronage given to the game by the erstwhile Maharajas (kings) of various domains. Cricket spread to other parts of India only from Indore. There was even a team called Holkar during the British days in cricket representing Indore. But after independence, Bombay (now Mumbai) gained prominence and slowly Indore died a death. Today Indore is famous for only pan chewing and spitting the red stuff all over the place – both public and private.

Swashbuckling innings by Sehwag entertains crowd

Coming back to Sehwag’s innings, I could not believe my eyes as Sehwag punished bowler after bowler to all parts of the ground. The strokes carried a rare mastery and nonchalance. Sehwag never respected any bowler. Every ball was meant to be hit. It was a chanceless innings except a dropped catch by the West Indian capital Dareen Sammy when Sehwag was at 170. Sehwag completed both his century and double century without any tension. Finally he created the world record of hitting the highest number of runs in a one day match. The previous record was held by Sachin Tendulkar.

Had Sehwag lasted a little longer, Pakistan would have been destroyed

All the pitches in Madhya Pradesh grounds like Indore and Gwalior play easy. They are batsman’s paradise. But how many batsmen make use of the batting conditions and hit an innings like what Sehwag hit? Therefore Sehwag’s innings cannot be brushed aside simply because it came on a batting track. In the semi final match that India played against Pakistan during the World Cup Cricket held in February, Sehwag hit five continuous boundaries and gave an inspiring start for India. Pakistani bowlers, fielders and its captain Afridi were clueless as to how to deal with Sehwag. Luckily for Pakistan, Sehwag did not last long. He hit some thirty odd runs and departed. I shudder to think what would have happened to Pakistan had Sehwag stayed and played an innings like he did at Indore. Pakistan would have been torn to pieces then. They escaped that ignominy even though they lost the match in a close encounter.

Ian Chappell’s captain’s knock

I have seen some of the best batsmen playing excellent innings. If you ask me to mention some of the best innings that I have seen in cricket matches, I can list out some of them that readily come to my mind. Australian Captain Ian Chappell’s captain’s knock of 156 not out on the first day of the second Test at Perth against Clive Lloyd’s West Indies side in 1975-76 series comes to my mind. Ian Chappell despatched all the West Indies bowlers with scant respect all over the field. Next day he was out without adding any further runs to his credit. In the same test, West Indies’ opening batsman Roy Fredericks’ aggressive 169 and Clive Lloyd’s captain’s knock of 240 comes to mind. Ironically, Fredericks and Lloyd were involved in a big partnership after the departure of Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharran. Roy Fredericks was ironically dropped by Ian Chappell at first slip off the first ball of the innings bowled by Denis Lillee.

Doug Walters had stroke play

Australian middle order batsman Doug Walters’ century in the Madras Test against India under difficult conditions in January 1970 appeals to my mind. It was Pongal festival in Madras and the crowd was thrilled by Doug Walters’ strokes. The pitch favoured spin bowling and Indian team possessed some of the best spin bowlers like E A S Prasanna, Bishen Singh Bedi and B S Chandrasekhar. In the same test, Australia was at one stage 26 for 6 in their second innings. But Australian opener Ian Redpath steered Australia to safety by staying put and playing a long innings not in terms of runs but in terms of minutes he occupied the crease (if I remember correct, Redpath scored some seventy odd runs in that innings). Redpath played a dour innings, but it had great value in arresting a total collapse of Australia.

Inverarity’s great knock went in vain

I loved John Inverarity’s great attempt to save the match for Australia in the final test against England at Oval cricket ground, London in 1969. Inverarity was the Australian opening batsman. The pitch was favouring spin and England possessed one of the best ever spin bowlers in the form of Derek Underwood (some say that Underwood was not a true spinner, but a seamer, but I don’t want to enter into an argument about that in this article). There was a joke that if a dog urinated the pitch, Underwood would bag five wickets! Australian wickets collapsed one after another on that fateful final day and nobody was able to counter the vicious spin of Underwood. Rain interrupted the match several times. Inverarity gamely carried on and when the twenty mandatory overs began, there was excitement writ on everybody’s face. Will England win? Win Underwood bowl Australia out? Will Inverarity save the match for Australia? These questions were being discussed at the Surrey cricket stadium at the Oval on that rainy final day. With the last one or two overs to complete, Inverarity drove a ball to the boundary to complete his half century. That was his first boundary of the innings. The Oval crowd clapped and appreciated his efforts. Inverarity was standing between a victory and a draw for England. He was spoiling Underwood’s plans. The last mandatory over began and Australia had lost nine wickets by then. Inverarity was the batsman on strike and Derek Underwood was the bowler. The first four balls were played defensively. All the ten England players were surrounding Inverarity now. The penultimate ball of the final over saw John Inverarity going forward and being hit on his pads. All the eleven England fielders cried ‘Howzaaaat’ and the umpire’s fingers went up. Inverarity was given out leg before wicket to Derek Underwood. Had Inverarity lasted two more balls, the match would have been drawn. Alas, that was not to be and Underwood was cheered and carried by all the England players to the pavilion. I rate this half century by Inverarity as one of the best innings I have seen.

But nothing was like Sehwag really

There are many more innings that I would love to mention but due to lack of space (of course internet has lot of space!) I am constrained to mention only a few innings that I liked. But nothing like Virender Sehwag’s swashbuckling innings of 219 played at Indore. I want Sehwag to play at least a few such innings during the Indian tour of Australia so that the Aussie bowlers have a taste of the Sehwag stuff. Best wishes to you, Virender Sehwag and thanks for your entertainment to the millions of fans.

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