Virender Sehwag Announces Retirement

By Atul Chavan - 7:22 PM

India’s legendary opening batsman hangs his boots from international cricket and IPL.

Very few batsmen in the history of cricket have captured the imagination of people like Virender Sehwag did. Each time he arrived at the batting crease, the air filled with anticipation of something special to come. And he seldom disappointed, for there was never a dull moment when Sehwag was at strike.

After 16 years of a thoroughly entertaining and mesmerising career, Virender Sehwag has decided to retire from international cricket and from the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Sehwag began his India journey in 1999 with an ODI against Pakistan in Mohali, as a middle-order batsman. On his Test debut three years later, on a quick Bloemfontein wicket, he scored a dazzling 105 against the likes of Pollock, Kallis and Ntini.

The watershed moment of his career, however, came in July 2002, in the Lord’s Test, when he was asked to open the batting. He responded with a sparkling 96-ball 84. Thus began Sehwag’s journey of revolutionising the role of opening batsmen in Test cricket.

In his unique style, with a simple approach to batting and incredible hitting skills, Sehwag went on to pile 8586 runs in 104 Test matches at an impressive average of 49.34 and an unheard of strike-rate of 82.23.

The most fascinating aspect of Sehwag’s batting throughout his career was his ability to score massive hundreds without compromising on his stroke-making instincts. His six double centuries – including two triple tons – are the most by an Indian in Test cricket. This is a testament to the fact that what appeared as carefree willow-wielding, was actually the combination of genius and confidence. There was a method to his madness. Behind the flamboyant ball-bashing was a keen cricketing mind at work. This shrewdness came to the fore when he had the ball in his hand.

The hallmark of Sehwag’s genius is how he not only overcame his weaknesses but converted them into his strengths. His minimal footwork could have made him highly susceptible to the dangers of the moving ball. But instead, he used his outstanding hand-eye coordination and balance at the crease to create space for big shots. He saw scoring opportunities where others thought survival. This meant that he could walk in to bat in the most difficult of conditions and make batting look ridiculously easy, like he did during his 195 in Melbourne, 309 in Multan and 201* in Galle, to name a few.

While Sehwag’s exploits in Test cricket will always overshadow his achievements in the shorter formats, his ODI career had its own magical moments. The greatest of them all was his double century against West Indies in Indore, in 2011. He demolished the bowling and the morale of the opposition with an onslaught worth 219 runs. He became the second batsman after Sachin Tendulkar to score a double hundred in an ODI and also overtook his idol to register the highest individual score in the format. In 251 ODIs, Sehwag scored 8273 runs at 35.05.

Sehwag’s numbers alone put him in the legion of legends. But the man’s worth in the cricket world goes much beyond mere numbers. It will be more appropriate to determine his value based on the impact he brought in a game. He evoked fear in the minds of the bowlers, off which his batting partners fed. The starts he gave with the bat instilled belief in the rest of the batting line-up.

The cricket world will remember Virender Sehwag for the joy he brought to those who watched him bat. He entertained us well.

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