January 13, 2014

India cricket

The curious transformation of Virender Sehwag

Poor form may have forced Virender Sehwag into the sidelines as far as playing for India goes, but he has enough to keep himself occupied. The Sehwag International School (SIS), which is spread over 23 acres in a Haryana village, sees him taking on the new role of shaping young minds. Sandeep Dwivedi of the Indian Express meets the man who has always dared to defy convention and was never swayed by advice, be it as a batsman or a businessman.

Seated inside the conference hall, Sehwag takes off his glasses. He rubs his eyes, and also the imprints left behind by the spectacles on his nose, as he narrates the story of his school. It starts with Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda gifting him land in 2008 after his second triple ton in Tests. Disregarding advice from friends and family, Sehwag refused tie-ups, stayed away from partnerships, and didn't invite investment. Like always, he wanted to do it his way. Like always, he didn't like interference. He dug deep into his earnings, signed hefty cheques, managed big loans and built a "KG to Class IX" co-ed school that within two years has 400 students, a cricket field, a football turf, an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts (clay, grass and synthetic), 400m athletics track, modern classrooms, labs, a stable for horses, auditoriums, an amphitheatre and air-conditioned hostels.

The odds are stacked against Sehwag making an international comeback, says DNA, before sounding out experts on what he needs to do to regain form.

Former India opener Chetan Chauhan has watched Sehwag from close quarters. Now a senior official in the Delhi and District Cricket Association, he, too, hopes Sehwag can fight the demons and stage a memorable comeback. "Work harder, play more matches, alter your back foot play, don't go searching for the ball and trust your instinct," is Chauhan's advice. "The moment he starts getting runs, everything will fall into place. Runs are runs, so it doesn't matter if you get them for your company (ONGC) or local club or state or country. He is a great player. Let's not forget that."

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