Deccan Chargers v Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2011, Hyderabad May 5, 2011

Sehwag's daring meets discretion


Five days ago, Virender Sehwag had come up against a pitch in Kochi that was keeping so low that batsmen were being dismissed boot before wicket. Sehwag responded with 80 off 47 deliveries, when survival was a lottery for others. Five days later, Sehwag came up against his own team-mates in Hyderabad. His fielders forgot to hold catches. His bowlers chose no-balls to take wickets. His batsmen took turns at pressing the self-destruct button. Sehwag responded with 119 off 56, when it would have been easy to throw it away with a shot in anger and frustration.

Delhi Daredevils needed 144 from 13 overs. They won with an over to spare, and the margin would have been wider had Sehwag not been dismissed in the 17th over. Twice in three games, Sehwag has shown that he is to Delhi what Sachin Tendulkar was to India for a large part of his career. The show begins and ends with Sehwag. The man knows it, and is candid enough to acknowledge that he is special. "Batsmen like Warner, or me, or Gilchrist or Tendulkar, can do anything if we play for so many overs," Sehwag said. "I told my boys, just play fearless cricket."

Fearlessness is one of the foundations of Sehwag's batting. Discretion, however, is not a measure that he applies in abundance, especially in the shorter formats of the game. When both virtues combine, his batting scales another level. On such days, his targeting of the weak links in the opposition bowling attack is almost predictable. Inevitably, Ishan Malhotra and Bharat Chipli disappeared for 43 in two overs.

On such days, he also realises that the contest between him and the cream of the opposition attack need not be a gladiatorial showdown. Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma were given the respect they deserved on a bouncy pitch, though Sehwag still managed four boundaries off them.

Spin and Sehwag have a tempestuous relationship. It brings the best and worst out of him. Predictably, Amit Mishra was taken for 37 in 14 deliveries. Predictably, the two dropped catches also came off Mishra.

"I was telling myself that just play through the spell of Steyn and Ishant. They don't have a fifth bowler and I have played Amit Mishra a lot in the nets," Sehwag said. "I knew I could come hard at them. I just thought let me play my shots and if we can get momentum, we can do this."

Despite their indifferent performance, Sehwag did not think it was correct to blame his team-mates for not pulling their weight. "We have played ten games, and I have clicked only in three. So I have not been consistent, and I can't really blame the others. I have more responsibility. The others are not that experienced; only Venugopal Rao is a bit experienced. They will take time; it takes time to build a good team."

Even as Delhi's campaign has now come down to them needing a win almost every time they step out on to the field, Sehwag has carried his heavy responsibility as lightly as only he can. In five days, he has overcome a minefield on one occasion and on another a team that seemed intent on scoring own goals. Today, he scored 102 more runs than his side's next-highest scorer in the game, James Hopes. "That's the kind of player he is mate," Hopes said. "He is as good as it gets in world cricket."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    @Spelele: Dude, doctored dustbowls? Apparently you have NO idea of Sehwag's overseas record. I remember a wretched series against New Zealand just prior to the World Cup. On those 'doctored' seamer friendly wickets, Sehwag was the ONLY Indian batsman to score 2 hundreds in the one-day series. You've also forgotten the first time he was asked to open in England... in his first 2 tests in seaming conditions he got a 100 and an 80. Moving on to Australia... you've forgotten the 195 at the MCG and the match-saving 151 at Adelaide IN THE SECOND INNINGS... and what about the 201 against a rampant Mendis and Murali at Galle? Do you need more reminders?

  • Vrushank on May 7, 2011, 13:53 GMT

    Sehwag hasn't even started bowling yet, we know he is more than handy with ball. He gets lots of turn too. Best figures of 4-6 in ODI's.

  • Sangeeta on May 7, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    to all the dustbowl characters....if batting in india is so easy then how come ponting only has 1 test hundred in 11 tests in india???? and how is it that only green tracks or bouncy tracks are sporting even spinning tracks are part of cricket and a big part at that...and as far as sehwag is concerned then he is by far the most destructive batsmen in the world and the fact is that if sehwag bats for even 2 sessions in a test match then india chances of winning that test match becomes very high!!

  • Aniket on May 7, 2011, 5:20 GMT


  • Dummy4 on May 7, 2011, 2:32 GMT

    @sepelele how many players made most runs in these sub continent pitches? do u know that sehwag came to lime light playing against new zealand(2002) in new zealand but not in india. It doesn't matter where you play How well you play does matters most.

  • al on May 7, 2011, 1:13 GMT

    @nlambda: bring Kambli back I say.

  • yogesh on May 6, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    big difference between Sehwag & SRT hundreds is that sehwag's makes sure you will win. well nothing taking away from god of cricket though. (SRT)

  • D on May 6, 2011, 16:50 GMT

    @Farce-Follower: Kumble won matches yes, that was with his bowling. In batting it was Sachin most of the time. Azhar, Kambli, Manjrekar all were relatively mediocre players who scored handsomely at home against the Sri Lankas and Zimbabwes but flopped most of the time in tougher situations. I remember India 219 all out against Eng, SRT 122. India 221 all out against Pak at Sharjah, SRT 73 off 62 balls. And of course one will never forget India 258 all out against Pak with SRT getting 136. You are just wrong in saying Azhar won matches - why I recall India lost to Zim in the 1999 WC and SOS had to be sent to Sachin to return quickly from his father's funeral so India could face Kenya and England "confidently".

  • Harish on May 6, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    @nlambda : Even during the days of Azhar, it was the combo of Kumble and Azhar who won us more home tests. And Kambli was not bad either. Its just that it is easy to say SRT and 21 years in one breath. Discerning (and not the screaming) cricket lovers know better.

  • Dummy4 on May 6, 2011, 14:36 GMT

    @spelele: His maiden hundred came against SA which had pollock, donald, ntini and hayward.. he made an astonishing 195 in melbourne with a quite potent aussie attack.. again a 155 against them last time around.. he has scored all around the world..and none of the batsmen you will claim are great have scored on these "dustbowls" against the even meagre tweakers.. he has batted through an innings which i think none of the contemporary test openers have done.. he has made 2 triple centuries under the harshest conditions possible (check out the weather map of multan and chennai) and a 290.. if you can bat through a session here in the sub continent without fatigue in april, you are plain great.. just do not comment for the sake of it...

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