“That’s a six, and Sehwag brings up his century in style”. Yes! It was Virender Sehwag, the personification of aggressive batting, that Indian cricket has ever seen. Wherever the match might be played, whichever may be the format, Sehwag; unstoppable as usual! It seems to be impossible to witness the upper cut, first ball boundaries, century; double century with a sixer by Viru in international cricket anymore! The legend (In cricket, not only the numbers make you legend!) is all set to bid adieu to international cricket.
Reports say, Viru gave a hint of his retirement from international cricket, and will take part in the Masters Champions Legaue (MCL), a Twenty20 tournament scheduled to be played in the UAE in February 2016. Question may arise, what is the relation between him playing in the MCL and retiring from international cricket? The MCL is only for the cricketers who are retired from international cricket.
Our memories go back to early 2000s, when young Sehwag started to play for India. He was an aggressive batsman by nature who was hitting boundaries all over the park and gives away the good start while trying unnecessary shots. Observing this, the then captain Sourav Ganguly brought him to open the innings and told him to bat responsibly. Then started the Sehwag era!
It was not easy in that time to play cricket so aggressively and score runs in an impressive average. There were bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar, Waquar Yunis, Wasim Akram, Bret Lee, Pollock, Ntini, McGrath etc. But Sehwag enjoyed breaking the length of the trump card bowlers of the opposition. He enjoyed getting off the mark with a boundary, many a times.
Opening with Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag brought a glory to the ODI cricket. He was unstoppable when he got his touch. He would have destroyed the opposition bowling attack if he stayed for 10 overs in the crease, such was his caliber. In Goutham Gambhir, he found a perfect partner to open the innings with. Both together have given necessary start to the Indian innings, which made them the best opening pair of the time. They have scored in an average of 60 plus in tests, it was a great contribution to make the team number one in tests.
During the mid-2000s, cricket has seen a lot of developments. T20 cricket evolved and grabbed all the attraction. ODIs were also changing. ODI became more batsmen friendly and big scoring matches were quite common. It affected the oldest format of the game, test cricket adversely. People were not ready to watch the slow moving score cards of the test cricket. In the times were the teams were struggling to score 200 runs in a single day of the test match, Viru was making a heap of runs. He was scoring 200s with ease in a single day’s play, hammering the opposition bowling line up.
His approach towards test cricket was no different from ODIs. When he was batting at 295 and was to reach the milestone of scoring the first 300 for India, he chose to achieve the feat with a six! He was a crowd puller for the longest format of the game. 15 out of his 23 centuries were all above 150! He had scored 6 double tons and 2 triple tons in test cricket. His triple century in Chennai, his flawless innings of Multhan, another near missed triple ton against Sri Lanka will never fade from the memories of the cricket lovers.
He has scored 17,000 runs in all the formats of the international cricket put together. He is next only to Shahid Afridi in terms of ODI strike rate. Viru may retire from cricket, but the memories he gave will be ever remembered. He may hang his boots and say bye to the cricket, but he will bat and rule the hearts of his fans with cherishing memories of the Delhi dasher’s career.