India’s hopes now rest on Virender Sehwag’s creaky shoulder

Posted: August 5, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, India in England 2011, Opinion
Tags: , , , ,

 Goutham Chakravarthi

 5 August 2011

Watching Sehwag bat is to see a batsman enjoy his trade. He seems just another kid from the Indian grounds who loves to swing it to the fences and detests any running whatsoever. But he is a clever man in disguise. He attacks at every opportunity, swings his blade with the speed of a Ninja and maneuvers it with hands that could make pottery. He is clumsy with his feet, but has the balance of a tightrope walker, eye of a hawk and the heart of a champion. On Friday, creaky shoulder and all, the whole of his country will be praying he brings the best of himself to Northampton.

India's hopes now rest with Sehwag even with all the mystery shrouding his fitness.

Sehwag has scaled heights few can imagine. Often, he approaches games with one objective – to score runs. There is no bowling or field placement that will restrain him from scoring. Critics will argue that he hits in the air and has dodgy feet movement, but he knows how to keep the good ones from getting him out. He is a determined soul who is not afraid to get hit. He will score runs in all directions and off both feet and of all bowling. His strokeplay is skillful, bold and adventurous with its roots deep in his imagination. It is no more a question of bowling to your field for the bowler; it is a question of bowling to Virender Sehwag. The most sanguine of bowlers start doubting the skills they spent their whole lives perfecting. With him, it is not a carefully structured plan that is about to take its course, but an adventure dipped in his imagination more wonderful than a Pixar movie.

They say it is fun to sit alongside him and watch cricket. As the new batsman might play himself in, you would get to hear him say, ‘that’s a four gone begging… and that one should have been hit to the stands’. His approach to cricket is uncomplicated as are his press conferences. Once asked how he would encounter a particular swing bowler, he opined that he would go after him and two boundaries later, the ball would stop swinging for the bowler is put off his game plan straight away.

His confidence reflects in his approach. He plays with a smile on his face. He despises being dictated to and swears to die by his game. He reckons spinners shouldn’t be allowed to bowl and relishes them like when a child sees ice-cream. He has indeed a tremendous record against the best spinners of his time. Only Muralitharan has bamboozled him early on in his career. He has since played one of the great modern day innings against spin at Galle when he carried his bat for a blistering 201 against a rampant Mendis and Muralitharan.

The downside of his enormously charmed batting is his mode of his dismissals at times. Like he can manufacture the most impossible scoring opportunities, so can he in getting out. For a man who is considered to have frailties against quick bowling and wet pitches, it must be a surprise to his critics that he scores any runs at all. It is a method that works because he is as good a player as his track record and reputation suggests.

For a man who has based his game on extraordinary strokeplay, his determination to score runs is as invaluable an ingredient. His preparation is immaculate. As scintillating his drives can be, his most incredible quality is to keep going for long hours once he is in. He terrorizes bowlers and sends them on a leather hunt all day long. That he has come within 7 runs of being the only batsman to three triple hundreds is a reminder of the extraordinary heights he has scaled as a batsman.

All his achievements as a player will count for little when he hopefully steps on to the park against Northants later today in a practice match. Creaky shoulder or not, his teammates are looking at his shoulder for strength and support. A nation of bruised fans following two defeats at the hands of this mighty fine English side will hope Sehwag can blow them apart. The fielders will tell you that they blow their hands every time they stop a Sehwag drive.

India’s hopes now rests on his creaky shoulder.

  1. rjsays says:

    Nicely written.

    One of the great ironies of Sehwag is that, even with his style, which is tailor made for T20s and ODIs, he is more successful in longest version of the game. An average above 50, almost three triples and all those numerous 150+ scores (I think he is the best player in terms of 100 -> 150 conversions) … all point to his greatness. I still remember the 2002 NZ tour, when India were humbled in both tests and ODIs, and he was the lone man scoring two hundreds (India won their only two ODIs) proving his credentials on even the most difficult surface for batting.

  2. rjsays says:

    You are right that Sehwag is very intelligent. If you have noticed, he rarely plays his shots during the early parts of the innings — I have seen scores like 24/0 in the first innings of the test … and suddenly after that Sehwag unleashes and India looks pretty with 120/1 at lunch.

    Thats greatness.

  3. bini says:

    His ODI knocks too seems to have perfected a pace now. A strike rate just above 100 for his first 50 runs and a super fast strike rate almost close to 200 for the next 50 runs!!! This is in clear contrast to all other batsmen who try to slow down when they are closing in on personal milestones.

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