Cricketers pick their favourites

'The classic see-ball, hit-ball batsman'

Part eleven: Ian Chappell picks the best centuries he has watched. No. 11: Virender Sehwag's 195 in Melbourne, 2003 (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

October 2, 2012


Virender Sehwag, 195 v Australia, Melbourne, 2003

'The classic see-ball, hit-ball batsman'

October 2, 2012

Where's Shane, mate? Virender Sehwag hammers Stuart MacGill for six, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Melbourne, 1st day, December 26, 2003
Sehwag: every ball an opportunity to score William West / © AFP

Virender Sehwag
195 v Australia, Melbourne, 2003

The tour of Australia in 2003-04 started very well for the Indians. They had a draw in the first Test match, they won in Adelaide - Rahul Dravid had a magnificent match there. So they were 1-0 up and they went to Melbourne. It was a four-Test series, so they were in the box seat.

They had another advantage, they had Virender Sehwag. I mean, if you have an aggressive opening batsman… having had the good fortune to play in a lot of cricket teams with an aggressive opening batsman, you see the advantages that they give you. Not only do they boost your own team because they take the bowlers on, it also deflates the opposition. Virender Sehwag was, and still is, an enormous asset to India in that regard.

I think a lot of people thought that he would struggle in Australia with the extra bounce, that that would cause him a problem. Well, I'll tell you who caused who the problem. Sehwag caused the Australian bowlers the problem.

I reckon Doug Walters and Virender Sehwag are very similar in thought - neither worries about the ball that has just gone past. All they worry about is the next one that is coming down, and what they see is an opportunity to score: every ball, basically, is an opportunity to score. That's how Virender Sehwag plays, and that's why I love watching him bat.

You think about the courage, the mental courage, that it takes to play like that, because you are going to fail, you are going to play some horrible shots, and you are going to look bad. When you do it as an opener, it stands out even more than when you do it in the middle order. So you are going to cop a lot of criticism for playing irrational shots and being irresponsible. But to have the courage to sort of say, "To hell with you, I'm just going to keep playing the same way", that takes a lot of mental courage, and that's one of Virender Sehwag's great strengths.

Anyhow, he came in this day in Melbourne and he flayed the Australian attack, and he was going to skate to 200 on the first day. Now you think about the guys, all the opening batsmen in world cricket, who have been able to make a double-hundred on the first day. Not too many.

Now Sehwag, if his attitude hadn't been the way it is, he would have done it twice. I mean, he had at least another half an hour to go and he was on 195, and it was purely the fact that he decided, "Right, I'm going to bring up my 200 with a six." He got a full toss from Simon Katich, and he went to hit it out of the ground. He just slightly mis-hit it and he got caught pretty well on the boundary for 195 with still a half hour to go.

Incredible innings, on the basis that the conditions were foreign to him, the extra bounce and so on, but that's Virender Sehwag. He doesn't worry about things like that. He is the classic "see the ball, hit the ball" player. If you are going to simplify the game of cricket as a batsman, that's what it is. It's the "see the ball, hit the ball" game. Virender Sehwag has managed to cut all the crap away, and that's all he is left with. Amazing player.

He did get his 200 on the opening day of a Test match, and I had the good fortune to see it. It was in Multan in 2004, I think. And I reckon he would have got 300 in a day, if it hadn't been for Sachin [Tendulkar] coming in, and Sachin was sort of telling him to take it easy, take it easy, because it was sort of getting near the end of the day. He probably would have fallen just a little bit short of 300, but I wanted to see if he could go on, because I reckon if it had been within range, he would have gone for it. But Sachin kept telling him to steady down, steady down. I wish Sachin hadn't come in that day. I am absolutely sure that if he had got to, say, 260 with 20 minutes to go then he would have had a crack at getting the 300, because that's the way he plays.

And that's why I love him so much. His attitude to batting that day in Melbourne was brilliant. The amazing thing was that Sehwag, having got India so far on top, and India being 1-0 up in the series, they somehow found a way to lose the Test match. I can't believe that they could lose it after such a great knock on the first day, but they managed to do it, and it finished up a tied series.

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