In November 2001, a young batsman from Delhi announced his arrival on the Test scene with a magnificent century against a quality pace attack of South Africa in Bloemfontein. After that knock, he went on to redefine batting, conquering new heights in the five-day game.
12 years later, with Team India set to embark on another South African sojourn, the same batsman will be missing and there are fears that this might be the beginning of the end for him.
The man who we are talking about is - Virender Sehwag. The "Nawab of Najafgarh" has destroyed many bowling attacks in Tests and One Day Internationals. Now, with loss of form and also axed from BCCI contracts' list, Sehwag stares at international cricket exit.
From the highs of triple centuries in Tests to double hundred in ODIs, Sehwag had reached new milestones. But now they are the thing of the past. He is nowhere close his best now.
At 35, Sehwag's age is against him. The selectors are backing youngsters to don the Indian cap. With Shikhar Dhawan and his young colleagues constructing impressive scores at the international level, we might not see Sehwag again in an India shirt. He has only a slim chance of returning to international duty.
Just like Sehwag, his Delhi mate and opening partner Gautam Gambhir too is left in the cold. However, the left-hander is three years younger to Sehwag and is currently recapturing form in domestic circuit. But Sehwag of the old is still not on view in Ranji Trophy matches.
In six Ranji Trophy innings so far this season for Delhi, Sehwag has not managed to score a half century. His highest is 35 not out against Mumbai.
Sehwag, a veteran of 104 Tests and 251 ODIs, has not played for India since March this year. He was dropped after the four-Test rubber at home against Australia.
Losing the BCCI contract this month was a clear signal from the mighty board that Sehwag is not in their scheme of things with an eye on future. With the World Twenty20 Championship next year and World Cup in 2015, the selection committee is certainly focusing on youngsters.
The man who entertained the fans with audacious strokeplay, Sehwag's international journey might be over.