In Quest of Former Glory: Virender Sehwag

Blog by: Roh

Australia v India - Tri-Series Game 10

When Virender Sehwag made his ODI debut the first thing that struck to people’s minds was his uncanny similarity to Sachin Tendulkar and it wasn’t really surprising to hear about Tendulkar being his cricketing idol. But as the days went by, Sehwag ended being more than Sachin Tendulkar’s follower coming up with trailblazing performances such that the whole world watched him, awestruck and spell-bound.

In the following years, he became the unlikeliest of pivot for Indian cricket taking on the most elite cadre of bowlers and making them cower before him. Anything that they threw at him, he had an answer to it and his answers only spelt doom and gloom for the opponents. The years of his ascendancy were marked by distinctive prolificacy where runs were plundered mercilessly from all corners of the cricketing world.

His debut in tests too followed a similar pathway as fearless and untrammelled by conventions, the Nawab of Najafgarh as he then came to be known, made his presence felt by fast-pacing the otherwise sedate test cricket proceedings. There seemed to be no difference in the way he looked at test and ODI cricket – runs poured forth when Sehwag stood at the crease and the crowd never grew tired of watching him accumulate them.

His inherent dauntlessness then accounted for jerky performances too. Hastiness and throwing away of his wicket when the team needed him to deliver became commonplace even though these still remained firmly in the shadows obscured by the glow of his brilliance. So much so that at his peak, there didn’t to be anything that could faze or browbeat Sehwag. He moulded himself to the team’s needs just as he moulded the team to accept the way he played. And even though everyone acknowledged – in some remote corner of the mind – that his techniques weren’t exactly claiming perfection, his unerring ability to transform the same into flawlessness made him even larger than life.

But these deficiencies then did make their presence felt, impacting his career when least expected consequentially, lessening the aura of indomitability surrounding him. The plethora of runs tapered off, bleaker and far more pointed in their continued run of scarceness making Sehwag an eerie parody of his own name. And where his performances dipped, as circumstantial as they were, he became inconsequential to the team. Such volte-face by the selectors wasn’t surprising to see, for illustriousness in the history of Indian cricket has long been associated with prolonged consistency rather than past merits. But nonetheless, it’s been indeed agonising to watch Sehwag caught in this never-ending cycle.

The prognosis of Sehwag’s future however doesn’t seem to be all bad though. The inclusion of his name in the India A squad went a long way in boosting optimism all around, albeit with wariness. For, as big a chance this may be, expectations too are quite demanding from Sehwag. His age has been more often than counted as the most challenging aspect in Sehwag’s potential second-run especially when considered that there is no dearth of younger playing talent waiting as reserves.

Alongside comes the more convoluted aspect of fitness. Never known for speed on the field, Sehwag’s comparative advancement in age then also asks a lot from him. In the months that lead to his exclusion from the national team, there were several questions raised about his mental fortitude. To make a comeback then essentially, Sehwag would have to prove himself fit – not just physically, but also mentally.

In the lines of these, Sehwag would also need to evolve from what he was – and was able to do – in the past so as to brace himself as per the needs of the team in the present. Another swashbuckler then Indian cricket needs not today, requiring a rather laidback and crafty player who can lull the bowler to complacency before unveiling the absolute master-class of his batting prowess. Thus, the only person who holds the reins deciding Virender Sehwag’s future course of career is Sehwag himself; shaping it – either for the best or for the worst, in every way that matters.

 

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