Bangalore, July 29: Dashing Indian opener Virender Sehwag's penchant for high-octane batting sends dreaded reverberations through the opposition's attack. His belligerent approach to trifling with the opposition through a barrage of power-hits to the fence and over it, has broken the mould of the quintessential Test batsman's cautious and subdued temperament. These are the attributes that India will sorely miss when they take on England in the crucial second Test of their ongoing tour.
Viru's ultra-aggressive bent is aptly reflected in his phenomenal Test strike, which hovers around 81, while the rest of Indian line-up lags at the 40 to 60 range. Of the 87 Tests he has played, his knocks have contributed to 35 wins and in those matches, his strike rate has surged to 87. Indeed, with his ability to set a foundation, he also softens up the opposition's bowlers who are virtually demoralised by the time the Indian middle-order walks to the crease.
But India will especially crave his presence at Trent Bridge, where in 2002, he came up with a brilliant innings-shaping 106. This scintillating knock set the tone for the batsmen that followed. Although the match ended in a draw, he had handed his side the impetus to win the following Test and square the series with England.
Unlike batsmen who slacken up when retirement is around the corner, Sehwag has only grown from strength to strength. Sample this statistic - since Jan 2008, his Test batting average has surged to over 58 and the strike rate has hit 90! In Team India, only Sachin Tendulkar can boast a higher average.
But alas, Sehwag is far from the scene of his past heroics - undergoing rehabilitation from a niggling shoulder injury at Bangalore' National Cricket Academy. As of now there is no certainty as to when he will be handed a ticket to England. In the meantime, the present Indian line-up will have to find some way to compensate. Will Sachin be able to meet the challenge? As of now it's a tall order for the short batsman.