Sunrisers Hyderabad v Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2013, Hyderabad May 4, 2013

Daredevils' struggles mirror Sehwag decline

Since the inception of the IPL, Sehwag has been a constant source of inspiration and big runs for Delhi Daredevils, but not this season

Two years ago, in Kochi, Naman Ojha was caught boot before wicket by a Sreesanth delivery that pitched good length and just rolled along the ground. Three balls earlier, David Warner had been bowled, trying to play a shorter one off the back foot. The ball had gone through at shin height. It was the seventh delivery of the game. Difficult pitch. Difficult situation. Virender Sehwag had watched those dismissals from the non-striker's end. He'd responded with a masterly, match-winning 80 off 47, after saying at the toss the soil was coming off the pitch whenever someone walked on it. The next highest score in the game was Ravindra Jadeja's 31 when the chase was all but over.

The Hyderabad surface tonight was nowhere close to that Kochi one on the difficulty scale. Yes, it was by no means a stand-and-hit pitch. Yes, a few kept very low. But there was as much chance of getting a boot before wicket as there is now of Delhi Daredevils making the playoffs. One of the highlights of Sehwag's Kochi innings had been his late-cutting from close to the stumps on a pitch where survival was a lottery for others. In Hyderabad, he didn't even try to late-cut; he tried to dab a Darren Sammy delivery to third man. It came in, stayed slightly low and hit off. More worryingly, it hit off when Sehwag's bat was still to complete its downward swing. This has been some decline for one of the most destructive batsmen in the history of the game.

To be fair to Sehwag, he hadn't thrown it away, like he did so often in his prime when the runs used to flow. In fact, his 8 off 17 was the slowest among the Daredevils' top seven. It just wasn't happening for him. As it hasn't at the international level for some time now. There too, it wasn't as if he was giving it away. He had tried to rein himself in, played more circumspectly, but was getting dismissed trying to defend.

Tonight, he saw Dale Steyn toying with Mahela Jayawardene in the opening over and played out a maiden to Ishant Sharma next. He took nine deliveries to get off the mark. He didn't attack when he was offered width, and was so stunned by a Steyn bouncer, he fended it painfully off the forearm.

Sehwag's strike-rate this IPL season is a completely unSehwag-like 123.62. The lowest before this was 143.47 in 2009, when the tournament was played in South Africa. In the remaining four seasons played in India, it had never gone below 160.

Six days after that Kochi knock in 2011, Sehwag came to the same ground on which he struggled tonight and blasted 119 off 56 to chase down 176 with an over to spare. The next-highest score for Daredevils was James Hopes' 17, showing what kind of support Sehwag had had. "That's the kind of player he is," Hopes had said. "He is as good as it gets in world cricket."

This season, the same player has had one innings of note in half the season. That, too, was not the single-handed demolition Hopes had witnessed, with Jayawardene also making a half-century in a 151-run partnership against Mumbai Indians.

Sehwag is one of the few players who have been with the same franchise since the IPL started. Daredevils have been probably the most excruciatingly inconsistent side in the IPL, finishing top of the table one season and plummeting to the bottom next. But Sehwag's presence has been one constant. In a way, they have ebbed and flowed with Sehwag. He produced five successive fifties in their run to the top of the league stage in 2012. He's dragged them to victory when they have stumbled, inspired them when they have stalled. Precious little of that has happened so far this season, and none of it, even if it happens, will make a difference to Daredevils' prospects now.

This is the same man who once smashed 94 of 41 against Deccan Chargers, again in Hyderabad, to finish a chase with the small matter of seven overs to spare. But it was so far back in time, Glenn McGrath and Mohammad Asif bowled the first seven overs of the game. Those two, for different reasons, belong to an era gone by. So does Sehwag, increasingly so.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Venkat on May 5, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Sehwag is a genius on his day...sadly tat days are longer coming off!!!

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    The best thing that can sehwag do now us go and play county cricket... It will help him playing against the moving ball... And his eyesight too improves... County cricket brought back ganguly,zaheer back... And sehwag needs county cricket badly now...

  • Alex on May 5, 2013, 3:12 GMT

    Bad year. Nothing else people. Every one have off time. Everything come in circle or cylcle. He will be fine as long as his eye sight do not go bad. Period.

  • Yogesh on May 5, 2013, 2:24 GMT

    Well, if Kris Srikkanth had still been chairman of the selection committee for BCCI, Sehwag (and Gambhir) would still have been in the team for the Champions' Trophy. It would have been justified on the ground that "in his day" Sehwag can take any attack apart, forgetting that that day ended for him some time in 2009 or 2010 as far as international cricket goes. No franchise will bid for him in the next edition of the IPL if his reserve price has not come down drastically to reflect the new reality. And maybe not even then.

  • Dummy4 on May 5, 2013, 2:14 GMT

    Its sad to see Sehwag play like this....he must realize that his best days are behind him wud be better if he would gracefully walk into the sunset rather than doing a disservice to his fans and himself by playing like this.......this goes for Sachin too....

  • Chatty on May 4, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    @Amit: No makeover is going to help out of form players get in to form. Leadership is over rated. Leaders can do only so much when the players are not performing. Loss of KP and Jesse Ryder hit them hard. But even the bigger problem I see with DD is that they cannot win at home. The successful teams have won at home consistently. The problem lies with the way they have prepared the wickets. Delhi wicket does not help DD. Fix that and things will change dramatically.

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    Same with sanga, it is hard to see him struggle batting. In past 5 season ins ipl he has never scored 400 runs. Now the bowlers are doing well to restrict teams to low totals so its not hard to chase these small totals. So the team wins & his "captaincy" gets laurels, white did about the same winning 2 of 3 matches & loss came vs CSK but not sure what white or the team were thinking giving last over to reddy. I guess giving repeated chances will result in a performance otherwise it might be time to let these guys walk. I wish DC kept KP instead of trading him, wouldve been great with KP, steyn, perera & sammy for overseas slots. Sanga just isnt a good t20 batsmen. Heres to insanity, repeating a process expecting different result :)

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    Much has been written about Sehwag, much has been attributed to him. Perhaps, rightly so. But what about Mahela? Classy batsman, astute leader, fantastic communication skills. Whats he done in this edition of IPL? Where is all the support staff of DD with all their fat salaries? Fact is that the downfall of DD is as much attributable to failure of Sehwag as much as it is to their leadership team. Having watched the last game against SRH at Delhi, one could feel that the team is a disinterested lot. The team arrived at the ground just 2 hours before the game. By that time, SRH had probably practised for 2 hours! When DD's players turned up on the ground, there were no organized fielding/exercise drills. Self-driven individuals (like Morkel, Pathan and Yadav) did some of their own practice, whilst others roamed around the ground. SRH, on the other hand, were working to a plan. Its not a surprise to see both teams where they are in the team standings of IPL 2013. DD needs a makeover. NOW!

  • No featured comments at the moment.