ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Bangladesh v India, World Cup 2011, Mirpur

Beware of Sehwag 2.0

Today Virender Sehwag gave a glimpse of what can happen if he bats 50 overs in an ODI, and on evidence, the bowlers need to be afraid. Very afraid.

Sidharth Monga at the Shere Bangla Stadium

February 19, 2011

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Virender Sehwag celebrates his hundred, Bangladesh v India, Group B, World Cup 2011, Mirpur, February 19, 2011
By the time Virender Sehwag was dismissed in the 48th over against Bangladesh, he had made 175, and taken India past 350 © AFP

To intimidate people, Al Pacino's character in Scarface made them "say hello to my little friend". Somehow six other words from Virender Sehwag, which sound completely non-violent by his standards, are having similar impact in the cricketing world. Cricket's Tony Montana just said, "I want to bat 50 overs." It is a simple thought, something every opening batsman says by rote, but when Sehwag says that it becomes scary. When Sehwag says he wants to bat 50 overs, you shudder when you think what if he actually bats 50 overs?

What if the man - his average innings lasts 32 balls but he has still managed to score more than 7000 runs at a strike-rate over 100 - decides to try and play anything close to 150 deliveries in a match? What if he regularly starts lasting till batting Powerplays? Before today, while batting first, Sehwag had faced 100 balls only on two occasions. What if he starts doing it more often? He has never stayed not out batting first. What if he does that often in completed innings?

Today Sehwag gave a glimpse of the possibilities, and on evidence the bowlers need to be afraid. Very afraid. It was fitting that the new Sehwag came out in the same country where four years ago he was trying to figure out just what his role was as a batsman, when he was a confused man after being dropped from Tests, a format in which he has never merited a drop. That was soon after the World Cup debacle. On that tour he got off to two starts, but threw his wicket away on both occasions. Four years on, now one of the most feared batsmen in Test cricket, Sehwag's intentions of making a larger impact in ODIs too have begun in Bangladesh.

The ease with which Sehwag did it today made it seem like all he had to do was tell himself he needed to bat longer. You could see he was fighting boredom in the middle overs when all that was available was singles. He even went 30 balls without a boundary, considered the oxygen of his batting, but that had little effect on him. You could see from his itching to hit that he still didn't think spinners ought to bowl in international cricket, but he showed restraint when Abdul Razzak came on to bowl in the fifth over. He played out four dots in that over before taking the single. Razzak's time would come later. The first time Sehwag tried to clear the infield today was in the 15th over, a six over cow corner to reach his fifty… off Razzak.

All this after he had got the World Cup off to a smashing start, with a punch through the covers first ball and a drive for four through the same region in the same over. You watched with interest just how he would rein himself in after such a start. How would a batsman who knows no boundaries limit himself? Not that he hasn't done that before. He did so to save the Adelaide Test, but then he had a challenge in front of himself, a larger cause of drawing the Test. He did that during a chase in Dambulla last year, scoring 99 not out when every other batsman failed under the lights, but then the conditions provided that extra challenge.

One-day cricket on flat tracks, like today, doesn't present that kind of multi-faceted challenge. It was the kind of track and bowling where the only man that could have got Sehwag out was Sehwag himself. He wasn't going to do that today, not until he had reached the back-end of the innings. In the middle overs, he fought the boredom with chips over extra cover for twos. He stayed alert to quick singles; on one occasion he ran a bye, and then the overthrow off a ricochet off the stumps when the ball had hardly gone far.

Once he reached that back-end, once he called for the batting Powerplay in the 35th over, every bowler bar Rubel Hossain - who used the bouncer well on a slow pitch - got the clip. Shafiul Islam was swung for six over long-on. Razzak he treated like a club bowler, leaving his crease every ball, and then deciding which boundary to clear. Powerful shots, late-cuts, lofts, all came back.

With the World Cup upon us, so is Sehwag 2.0. If he can continue doing what he did today, more games will be decided by the end of the first innings.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by hellraiser9 on (February 22, 2011, 22:28 GMT)

Sehwag 2.0 is indeed very interesting.. First he and sachin begin in typical style.. getting boundaries quickly racing to 32 in first 3 overs then came the moment of madness where sachin was run out and sehwag oblivious .. At the moment anything could have happened. BD bowlers could have grabbed the control on the match but what followed was responsible, attacking and methodical disintegration of BD bowlers all around the park. For 20 overs or so both sehwag and Virat kohli batted superbly with such ease that you are left wonderful if this is world cup match.. There was so much hype built about how BD would upset India but in reality it was India especially Sehwag who demolished and blunted BD bowling attack. Like he expressed in press conference he almost batted 50 overs which is awesome and at the same he just gobbled up so many runs in the process and at one time even threatened to go past Sachin's 200..what a performance. Hats off to Sehwag 2.0 and hope he continues in same way..:)

Posted by puneet_usa on (February 22, 2011, 14:51 GMT)

i see the inevitable coming with sehwag 2.0 being already offically launched by our own Cricinfo- I can see few more records tumbling in the coming matches- please Beware all the other teams in the world cup- Just respect this hard headed " one of its kind" cricketer Sehwag- to what he bought to the cricketing world- I can tell you all his critics themselves are on the edge of their seats every time this guy is batting in the middle- he is the most feared batsmen of international cricket- Give the guy respect he deserves people- he is the only test cricketer in history of world cricket to have accumulated runs at suh rapid pace- he is that a fearless cricketer who will look for a six to reach 50, or even 300 with a huge six- where others might be just doing it in singles or two- Take a Bow People-Lets just Celebrate Sehwag 2.0- Cheers and Thanks Cricinfo and Sidharth Monga for such a wonderful and well written article.

Posted by Love_Tiger_Cricket on (February 22, 2011, 4:52 GMT)

I'm a fanatic BD fan & I was deeply wounded by the manner in which India methodically defeated our boys in every level of the game. Frankly, it was a no contest from the get go. Aside from Shakib & Razzaq, the rest of the BD fast/spin bowlers are truly below mediocre. Facing a team that currently consists of some of the world's greatest batsmen with a dismal bowling attack, the BD coach & selectors revealed their utter lack of cricket acumen. In terms of bating, I don't think there ever was a ODI team that boasted such powerful assemblage of quality cricketers. Honestly, if Tendulkar didn't get run out, I think Sehwag & Tendulkar would have scored 400 runs all by themselves. If there ever were a Cricket's Hall of Fame, I think all of the first eight Indian batsmen would have been inducted into it. It's a privilege and utter good fortune to witness a team of such caliber. I just wish that India had another bowler of Zaheer Khan's caliber. That would have made them truly impregnable.

Posted by dummy4fb on (February 21, 2011, 18:10 GMT)

Good work guys. Perfect Revenge taken. I cannot forget 2007 world cup against Bangladesh

Posted by Vilander on (February 21, 2011, 17:58 GMT)

and i think if Sehwag 2.0 continues in same vein against better opponents, he can be the next Gilly, the breed of 'the monster opener' if he already is not..

Posted by dummy4fb on (February 21, 2011, 15:20 GMT)

great knock by sehwag. good luck with the rest of the world cup.

Posted by phaze on (February 21, 2011, 8:07 GMT)

Well done team India!!!! May you keep entertaining us during this world cup and beyond!

Posted by dummy4fb on (February 21, 2011, 7:29 GMT)

The stats itself tell that Sehwaag is a Trend setter for India... his past records suggests the same. In evry tour or tournament he blinks lyk star in first match and set the trend for TEAM INDIA. Hope India will capitalize on his performance nd hopping to see him more lyk this.

Posted by amitsetiya20 on (February 21, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

HEy folks...So far best innings by Sehwag..I wont get into any debate about the best batsman or flat pitch bully...cricket is meant to enjoy and thats wht sehwag did on sat...It was a sheer enjoyment to all cricketing fans... P.S..i never like Sehwag but now love say that I am his fan...Only his fearlessness and Sachin's consistent performance can help India in winning the WC.

Posted by dummy4fb on (February 21, 2011, 2:27 GMT)

Like the heading.. Sehwag 2.0....

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