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The Second Sachin

Displaying boyish enthusiasm in his batsmanship, the 23-year-old Sehwag believes in the ball-is-meant-to-be-hit attitude.

The Second Sachin
The Second Sachin
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
Known as a Sachin Tendulkar clone, Virender Sehwag first earned international fame with a whirl-wind century in the last league match against New Zealand during the Coca Cola Cup in the Emerald Isles in August last year. In the absence of Tendulkar, Sehwag was promoted to the opening slot along with skipper Saurav Ganguly. His ‘bang bang’ hitting made the opponents’ respectable score of 264 look mediocre. In a stay of just 97 minutes, he cracked exactly hundred runs off only 70 deliveries which included 19 boundaries and one six.

It was this innings that announced the arrival of Sehwag. It also enhanced his reputation and secured his place in the Indian one-day squad. In fact, his greatest honour came when people started comparing him with Tendulkar as his batting style matches with that of the "little master". And his success as an opener forced selectors to rearrange the batting order. Tendulkar was asked to bat in the middle order. Since then, Sehwag has often been referred as the ‘Second Sachin’, and from that moment onwards he never looked back, although a couple of injuries forced him to miss a few matches.

Displaying boyish enthusiasm in his batsmanship, the 23-year-old Sehwag believes in the ball-is-meant-to-be-hit attitude. He is uncompromising about his technique and treats his bat like a sword. Some of his shots were so powerfully executed that fielders dared not touch them. From the moment he took strike, he strongly believed that the new ball should be turned into an old one without much loss of time and battered out of shape and without delay.

Short and sturdy, Sehwag is an extrovert. His infectious enthusiasm is schoolboyish and charming. He is friendly and his disposition is pleasant. He makes an acquaintance or even a stranger feel comfortable. He is willing to laugh and what makes him a likeable character is that he does not mind laughing at himself. And it is this attitude which makes him an important player not only on the field of play but also in the dressing room. A useful off-spinner, Sehwag’s style of batting has become a topic of discussion of late. After that scintillating ton in the one-day international, he made his Test debut against South Africa at Bloemfontein in November last year. It was indeed a memorable one for him. Coming at the crease with India precariously placed at 68 for 4, he made a solid 105 with the help of 19 boundaries in 173 balls—a typically fast display of batsmanship, true to his character. He was also associated with Tendulkar in an important 220-run stand for the fifth wicket. However, he found himself dragged into a match referee controversy along with his idol in the next Test at Port Elizabeth. The whole controversy ensured that he missed the first Test of the England series which was played at Mohali. But once he was back, he managed to successfully brush it aside and return to his free-flowing, ebullient self.

His disastrous one-day debut against Pakistan at Mohali in the Pepsi Cup way back in the 1998-99 season did not presage such an eventful career. After having got out for a single, he was hammered for 35 runs in a span of just three overs that he bowled. He was shortlisted among the 19 probables for the 1999 World Cup in England but did not make the final squad.

Sehwag has been a mainstay in Delhi Ranji Trophy team since the 1998-99 season. A powerful hitter of the ball, he aggregated 745 runs during the 1998-99 Ranji Trophy season with three hundreds and soon followed it with 674 runs in 1999-00 edition. In the 44 first-class matches he has played so far, Sehwag has plundered 3,554 runs with 274 as his highest score, at an impressive average of 57.32. He has cracked 12 centuries and 16 fifties in these games.

True to his fast approach of play, he enjoys an astonishingly high strike rate of 97.80 in his 38 odis. On the other hand, in the traditional form of cricket, he maintained a healthy looking average of 52.60 and a strike rate of 65.66.

Before the current series in Old Blighty, it was debated that it is in England that the real test of Sehwag’s technique and ability to cope up with upcoming balls will come. And mid-way through the Test series, he seems to have graduated with scores of 84 & 27 at Lord’s and 106 at Nottingham.

Although too early to predict his longevity, Sehwag’s success lies in his courage, boldness and perfect timing of his shots. He wields the bat as a magic wand. He finds gaps aplenty and when in his usual belligerent mood, he effortlessly lifts the ball out of the sight of the hapless bowlers and fielders. A touch of Sachin indeed. Advantage Sehwag!

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