Virender Sehwag's new avataar

Written by: Vineesh Krishnan
Published: Thursday, July 29, 2004, 19:42 [IST]
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Virender Sehwag heralds a new era in Indian cricket. If Sehwag was playing during the time before 1995, he may have found the door to Indian team shut on his face or may have found himself out of the team after two or three appearances. Selectors may have pointed out his lack of footwork, technique and a complete disregard for coaching manuals. Selectors would never have thought about his inclusion in the Indian Test team. And this man who is the antithesis of conventional cricket wisdom has become the first Indian to score a triple century in Tests!

We must thank television and subsequent commercialisation of the game for the pleasure to watch someone like Sehwag in action. For television needs characters like Sehwag to sustain the TRP ratings. With television placing Sehwag in the public eye, it would have been very difficult for the selectors to sack the unconventional. Selectors too are part of the contemporary culture that revolves around television and their judgement could have been influenced by it. So, they must have decided to wait and watch if Sehwag turns himself into a convention, and a model to emulate.

Viru is back with everything safely in place if not with a bang. Certainly, marriage has made him mature. From the careless abandon of youth he has transformed himself into a married man who carefully saves for the future.

In the crucial Super League match against Sri Lanka, opening the batting with the Little Master, Sehwag played with utmost caution in the initial stage in stark contrast to his slam bang style.

Giving respect to others is a virtue every successful person picks up during their 20s. Sehwag, who always paid scant regard to the opposition and never liked to be on the defensive, found the patience and character to wait for the storm to pass and set up sail when the sea calmed.

Being gifted with an amazing eye to compensate for a seemingly nonexistent footwork, Sehwag can afford to wait for the loose ball because when it comes he can always give it the treatment. Therefore it was only natural on his part to adopt the safer option on Sri Lankan pitches where the ball does not come on to the bat.

Tuesday's 81 against Sri Lanka, proved that Sehwag has started the consolidation period of his fledgling career. Now he has proved he can play all kinds of attacks on any kind of surface. Remember, at the start of last season, when India was butchered by New Zealand on underprepared wickets, Sehwag was the only Indian batsman who was amongst runs.

Certainly on pitches were the ball comes on to the bat, Sehwag is bound to blast every ball from the start. But the important thing is that he has learned to change his game according to the circumstances. And that trait differentiates the outstanding from the ordinary.

More than anything, the success of Sehwag in the longer version of the game, is the most astonishing. After he scored the triple century at Multan, the Pakistanis admitted they had no plans for Sehwag because they believed Sehwag would get himself out. Stretching the limits of probability to the highest score ever in Tests by an Indian, Sehwag did the unexpected.

Even if the latest heresy of the game, 20 over cricket comes to prominence in India, there is no one better placed than Sehwag to be the first true international megastar of it.

We must thank Aarti for quickening the transformation of Sehwag from a reckless, footloose, arrogant young man into a mature cricketer with vision and a sense of responsibility. And remember that the best of Sehwag is yet to come.

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