Super Kings v Kings XI, IPL 2014, Qualifier 2, Mumbai May 30, 2014

Vintage Sehwag revives old memories

A small component in Kings XI's new designs, Virender Sehwag turned the clock back and surprised one and all by playing a big hand to take the team into its first IPL final
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We have been expecting you Mr Sehwag
We have been expecting you Mr Sehwag © BCCI

The queues extended from Churchgate station on either side of the railway tracks. Most of them came dressed in yellow with a Dhoni No. 7 emblazoned on the back - it's a shirt that doesn't go out of fashion. However, the red shirts were the ones being enthusiastically picked up on the pavements. All of them, absolutely all of them, had the same text on their backs - 32, Maxwell. Inside the ground, Maxwell treated the crowd to some big shots from the practice pitch before the toss. When Kings XI Punjab were asked to bat, they all let out a shriek of excitement for Maxwell. However, by the end of the first innings, Maxwell's reds - and the rest - had been reminded of something far closer to their hearts: Virender Sehwag.

If Kings XI's winning formula was written in the form of a mathematical equation, Sehwag's presence would appear as a minor variable after the consideration of exponential effects from Glenn Maxwell and Co. Sehwag had given the team its solid starts, scored 326 runs in 15 innings in the shadows of blinding onslaughts from others. Bespectacled, restrained, unassuming, a bit dated, and reduced to a small component in Kings XI's larger designs. Did anyone care about the Sehwag factor? Probably not. Even R Ashwin, at the end of Chennai Super Kings' previous match, was only concerned about his plans for Maxwell.

Super Kings haven't played a real home game (in Chennai) this season, but on Friday, they were on home turf - the knockouts. So on Friday, if any team was going to feel the pinch of the situation, it was Kings XI. They had already faltered in Kolkata two days ago. The way the innings started - Manan Vohra struggling to get bat on ball - it certainly seemed that the occasion might be getting bigger on the in-form team. What better man then to have than Sehwag, whose game has always made mockery of that term - pressure.

His first two boundaries - one through cover and the other through point - would have excited most people 10 years ago. Not now. It's not fashionable anymore. All eyes were on Vohra instead, who did provide the first release in the fourth over with a six over long-on. The next ball, Vohra mistimed a pull, but ran three. Interestingly, it was not Vohra who made the third possible, it was Sehwag. Next ball, Sehwag arched back and guided one through the tiny gap at gully. It was that shot, the cheeky vintage Sehwag manoeuvre, that brought the attention to him.

A hat-trick of boundaries in the next over, bowled by his Delhi team-mate Ashish Nehra, had that Sehwag signature of teasing the opposition captain and his field placements. One straight, one over cover, and as the deep cover was put in place, one through gully. It was only when he reached his half-century of 21 balls that Wankhede woke up to the main show of the night. Spinners were treated as they ought to be in the Sehwag world - Ashwin was greeted with a straight six, Jadeja was similarly dispatched second ball. Sehwag's smile widened. He was having fun. After Jadeja was hit for a third six, MS Dhoni had to walk over and put his arms around his bowler's drooping shoulders. This was helpnessness. This could have been a one-dayer, a Test. This was Multan. This was Chennai. This was Brabourne all over again.

As Sehwag took his 100th run, the crowd rose on its feet and by the time he got out, the score read 211, far beyond just being a platform. The innings had launched Kings XI into the stratosphere.

Sehwag has been in the twilight of his career for quite some time now and there cannot be many such innings left in the tank. Unlike some of his other former India team-mates who have kept the desire of a comeback burning, Sehwag has appeared too casual to harbour such ambitions. He has, throughout a tough domestic season, spoken out about his hard work, but adaptability is one word that cannot be associated with Sehwag.

A lot of players from his generation turned into something else just to stretch careers, but that narrative doesn't fit well with Sehwag. Even during his worst phase, Sehwag didn't make himself last long enough to reveal his struggle.

Still, there was sadness. You knew he wasn't coming back; he didn't even show any intent to raise any hope. Were we just going to see him fade away? Sehwag's innings on Friday night didn't change anything. It just gave his followers a chance to relive his glory days and to celebrate Sehwag.

"There is one thing I was inspired by, whenever I got out early," Sehwag said after the match. "I called my son and he said, 'Papa, you are not a good player, you are not scoring runs,' so I said, 'Hold on, there are a couple of games left, so maybe I'll show you what I'm capable of.'"

The innings had painted Wankhede red - it was Sehwag's first century in India since the 117 against England in Ahmedabad in 2012. Suresh Raina played a numbing knock of 87, but his dismissal drew loud cheers. No one wanted Kings XI to lose. No one wanted Sehwag to lose. A spectator in the adjacent seat summed up the mood: "Maxwell maare to theek hai, but Sehwag maare to andar se khushi hoti hai" [If Maxwell hits it, it's fun, but if Sehwag hits it, it makes you happy from inside].

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 31, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    A very well written article about probably the only reason I started watching cricket in the first place. As you correctly pointed out here, this innings meant probably nothing in viru's career ahead. It is very sad though that he is all but done with playing for India. But this just proved all his critics and doubters once again that no matter what position you are in you just cannot ignore him. He is there in the team for a reason, a reason well acknowledged by the team owners (watch preity's reaction upon him reaching the 100th run). It just mirrors the entire nation's an all those who love cricket's emotions. As Agarkar rightly said, this is all an owner can ask from one. To be very honest, it is extremely disturbing and 'boring' to watch a team without this man and is probably the primary reason behind not only me not watching India play but also in me losing interest in cricket overall. One can argue that this man is purely one of human's kind and can never be replaced.

  • on June 5, 2014, 12:22 GMT

    Hi There, Virender Sehwag should be in India's Test team he's one of the greatest batsmen of all time. I'm Australian and I love watching him play he's the best opener with Sir Viv Richards to play the game. Sehwag is a match winner yes he will fail on occasions but he will win matches for you. Okay if you don't bring him back in one dayer's but for test matches it's a mistake to leave him out. He single handedly can take the match away from any team you are playing against. I can't understand why he's been dropped. Okay he failed a few times big deal bring Sehwag back please… Highest individual scorer in test match cricket for India. Many records that players dream about having. He's in my team everyday of the week no second thoughts. Pick him every time over anyone else to open the batting. Please bring him back don't waste his talent!

  • on June 2, 2014, 1:36 GMT

    Wow.. its superb show and nostalgic of his past era. The article is well written. I missed the match and the innings but this report has pacified my regrets.

  • baghels.a on June 1, 2014, 8:18 GMT

    Brilliantly written,well crafted piece Mr Fuloria !!!

  • on June 1, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    It has indeed been quite a while since I have read an article so well written, and by no means it could have been more apt for a personality like Viru, or should I say this man really bring out the best when it comes to asking anyone to describe him. Following his life both on and off the field, I must add, this man has not lost his humility and neither his means of entertaining the billion plus Indians. A decade and a half or probably more on, I can only say... the magic has not deserted the man; only his luck has... Viru; you are the best there was and probably will be.

  • D.Sharma on June 1, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    This was a flat track and people want him in the team for England LOL. He struggled in England last time and should be nowhere near test team given his below par fielding.

  • ajayp93 on June 1, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    This article is heart-warming: written in an unusual, yet utterly charming style, with energy reverberating throughout; and, something absent in most cricket journalism - a depressing, but refreshing honesty. Sehwag will not make a national comeback. That's not the point. This was a day - at 36 years of age - no less, where he turned back the years and gave the youth of today an inkling of why the man is so revered worldwide. Alas, that will be one of few innings where he lights up and imposes himself in a game as dramatically as he has done here; no matter, as the man said himself, "I have nothing to prove".

  • on June 1, 2014, 3:24 GMT

    Can we see another triple hundred from you ?

  • Retour on May 31, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    Among the famous five in their respective best form, Sehwag to me is the best in test considering his unbeatable combination of high SR and Avg. This places him in the league of his own. Would love to see him play test or even lead the test side for a few more years. It appears as if he looks forward to guiding youngsters and is an aggressive captain as well. Considering that the ODI WC is in Aus where he has a couple of test 100s, it may not be a bad idea to call upon his experience in that WC.

  • on May 31, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    It was really amazing inning by Viru.... no words can satisfy him for this performance... all Indian has a desire for Sehwag to play for Indian cricket team again... God bless :)

  • on May 31, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    A very well written article about probably the only reason I started watching cricket in the first place. As you correctly pointed out here, this innings meant probably nothing in viru's career ahead. It is very sad though that he is all but done with playing for India. But this just proved all his critics and doubters once again that no matter what position you are in you just cannot ignore him. He is there in the team for a reason, a reason well acknowledged by the team owners (watch preity's reaction upon him reaching the 100th run). It just mirrors the entire nation's an all those who love cricket's emotions. As Agarkar rightly said, this is all an owner can ask from one. To be very honest, it is extremely disturbing and 'boring' to watch a team without this man and is probably the primary reason behind not only me not watching India play but also in me losing interest in cricket overall. One can argue that this man is purely one of human's kind and can never be replaced.

  • on June 5, 2014, 12:22 GMT

    Hi There, Virender Sehwag should be in India's Test team he's one of the greatest batsmen of all time. I'm Australian and I love watching him play he's the best opener with Sir Viv Richards to play the game. Sehwag is a match winner yes he will fail on occasions but he will win matches for you. Okay if you don't bring him back in one dayer's but for test matches it's a mistake to leave him out. He single handedly can take the match away from any team you are playing against. I can't understand why he's been dropped. Okay he failed a few times big deal bring Sehwag back please… Highest individual scorer in test match cricket for India. Many records that players dream about having. He's in my team everyday of the week no second thoughts. Pick him every time over anyone else to open the batting. Please bring him back don't waste his talent!

  • on June 2, 2014, 1:36 GMT

    Wow.. its superb show and nostalgic of his past era. The article is well written. I missed the match and the innings but this report has pacified my regrets.

  • baghels.a on June 1, 2014, 8:18 GMT

    Brilliantly written,well crafted piece Mr Fuloria !!!

  • on June 1, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    It has indeed been quite a while since I have read an article so well written, and by no means it could have been more apt for a personality like Viru, or should I say this man really bring out the best when it comes to asking anyone to describe him. Following his life both on and off the field, I must add, this man has not lost his humility and neither his means of entertaining the billion plus Indians. A decade and a half or probably more on, I can only say... the magic has not deserted the man; only his luck has... Viru; you are the best there was and probably will be.

  • D.Sharma on June 1, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    This was a flat track and people want him in the team for England LOL. He struggled in England last time and should be nowhere near test team given his below par fielding.

  • ajayp93 on June 1, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    This article is heart-warming: written in an unusual, yet utterly charming style, with energy reverberating throughout; and, something absent in most cricket journalism - a depressing, but refreshing honesty. Sehwag will not make a national comeback. That's not the point. This was a day - at 36 years of age - no less, where he turned back the years and gave the youth of today an inkling of why the man is so revered worldwide. Alas, that will be one of few innings where he lights up and imposes himself in a game as dramatically as he has done here; no matter, as the man said himself, "I have nothing to prove".

  • on June 1, 2014, 3:24 GMT

    Can we see another triple hundred from you ?

  • Retour on May 31, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    Among the famous five in their respective best form, Sehwag to me is the best in test considering his unbeatable combination of high SR and Avg. This places him in the league of his own. Would love to see him play test or even lead the test side for a few more years. It appears as if he looks forward to guiding youngsters and is an aggressive captain as well. Considering that the ODI WC is in Aus where he has a couple of test 100s, it may not be a bad idea to call upon his experience in that WC.

  • on May 31, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    It was really amazing inning by Viru.... no words can satisfy him for this performance... all Indian has a desire for Sehwag to play for Indian cricket team again... God bless :)

  • on May 31, 2014, 17:28 GMT

    Nicely written Mr Author. We would love to see more such innings from Sehwag and more reports like this one from you :-)

  • Nampally on May 31, 2014, 16:16 GMT

    KXIP should be grateful to Sehwag for carrying them into Final. If Sehwag had failed in tis match, his team would have been shot for <140- an easy target for CSK. It was a vintage Sehwag innings- full of adventure & Dashing display. It is sad that Sehwag does not like to build his innings responsibly. It required his Son to make him understand that he is letting his fans & all his supporters down by his carefree attitude. When he turns up to play, he is determined & focussed. This has been the approach right thru' his life. When he says I will score today, he suddenly becomes disciplined even in his hitting. His long innings are always superb & he does not give away his wkt. If "that Sehwag" appeared consistently then he would have overtaken Tendulkar or any batsman in the World. In this match he once again showed a determined & disciplined Sehwag can turn it ON in a masterly manner. Sehwag is a character player- an untameable Genius & Wild Governor General of the Crease- Hats off!

  • ProdigyA on May 31, 2014, 15:52 GMT

    There is nothing in the world of cricket than watching a vintage Sehwag. He can bring life into even a boring Test match. He is what makes people watch every ball of every game as long he is there. With or without this innings, it does not make any difference to his wonderful career and service of Indian cricket.

  • on May 31, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    i love to sehwag batting and even raina was just outstanding last night

  • deadite11 on May 31, 2014, 12:54 GMT

    Excellent job by sehwag yesterday, he proved his best against greatest team but weakest bowlers. But his franchise owner was disgusting to see to their immatured behavior. Sehwag should score more like this. But raina if scored century, it would ve been overshadowed sehwag.

  • on May 31, 2014, 12:06 GMT

    The last comment sums it up all. It really makes us happy from deep in the heart when Sehwag scores big.

  • ANU-RAJA on May 31, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    I was in Wankhede yesterday and the scenes before, during and at the end of the match as Devashish writes were exactly the same. That's authenticity for you. Kudos to the author.

    Now to Viru. I confess that I, like many all over the world, am a huge fan of Viru. As Vishnu Pattahil writes, he has left a void in the Indian team. Many of us are yet to recover from the injustice meted out to him but now we are reconciled to the reality of not getting any justice from the dispensation - from the vastly overrated captain (in tests) to selectors. Be that as it may - Many other greats like Dravid, Sachin, VVS and Ganguly were shown their doors in subtle yet different, distinct tones. Viru could not be an exception except that he had a few more years of good cricket when he was sidelined. And he is a player who thrives on support from team and selectors.

  • on May 31, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    in my opinion he is still far better that current indian openers........

  • on May 31, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    very well play shewaq great martial innings he almost burst all the bowlers great and one man show take Punjab team to the final in IPLl history .He destroys all the critics by the great innings ,Ii remember the innings when he was skipper for Delhi team well done shewaq

  • Sudhir65 on May 31, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    There is one difference I noticed- when Maxwell is in full flow, he bludgeons the balls out of boundaries but Sehwag seems to be not as "violent". But still the balls were flying out of the park. Great batting.

  • Igua on May 31, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    Loved it Sehwag. Thank you so much for making me feel younger and bringing joy. Have been watching you ever since you burst onto the scene and so glad that you showed that you still have it in you. Good luck...

  • on May 31, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    Whenever we will make All Time Indian Best Test XI, we will see Sehwag opening alongside the great Sunil Gavaskar. Viru has done all what just a slogger can't even imagine of doing! 8500+ test runs at an average of almost 50 scored at a SR of 82. A rare breed. Right up there with Gilchrist & Viv

  • on May 31, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    sehwag is sehwag -no one can beat sehwag-

  • ishrat1971 on May 31, 2014, 8:46 GMT

    I am from Pakistan and remember the Multan mauling… I believe the impact this man has had on the modern game is akin to that of Sir Viv and Jawed Miandad, see ball hit ball love it respect….and when he is in that sort of mood he toys with the bowlers be it county trundlers or international stars. I hope we see a few more such innings even if they are not in Country Flannels. Maybe they should take him to England for one last Hurrah

  • cricarch on May 31, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    Great Article! This inning was indeed a special one that took me back 6-7 years. When Sehwag was a serious threat to bowlers and they planned strategies around him, and not Sachin or Dravid! He was the only one I used to watch a test match for. Absolute beautiful and brilliant placements, sound of the bat, stand-and-deliver shots, everything about him was a treat to your eyes. I missed him for last few years and those memories are fast fading away. Then came this IPL and we saw some flashes of his brilliance and carefree shots in few innings. I was always hopeful that he will turn it big in this tournament. But this big, oh boy, this came as a huge surprise! And what a lovely one! I woke up at 7 (pacific time zone) to watch the match and his inning made my day. I would love to see him back in the national team. If this innings is not enough to make his case stronger, which it seems, I wish he hits a couple of more tons to delight our fans and find his way back to the big league.

  • on May 31, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    Dnt want to admit nut had tears in my eyes after reading this......we miss u Sehwag Sir

  • on May 31, 2014, 6:03 GMT

    awesome article sir....I ALWAYS used to have poetic feelings when Sehwag bats........u described them today.Respect for the Legend

  • here2rock on May 31, 2014, 4:00 GMT

    It was a fantastic innings against a weak attack, at the writer said that it brought back a lot of great memories from the greatest Indian batsman in my opinion but still something was missing, not the same ease he disposed the bowlers all around the world, it required a lot more effort in this innings. I thought Raina played better innings and unfortunately he got run out.

  • Puneetbat on May 31, 2014, 3:29 GMT

    Hi everyone, I am a huge sehwag fan and its was heartening to see him back in action. I read the article and I understand the tone infers that just his century can not be a reason enough to include him in the team. I agree to disagree, I know he cannot be included in the team because of his inconsistency, but hey he has never been known for consistency. He is an Impact player and if he bats for 12 overs in any match/format thats enough to *TERRORIZE the bowlers. 2 triple tons. Just for the records. 5/9 fastest 200's in test matches were made by Sehwag. The least he deserves is a respectable exit. #wewantsehwagback :)

  • YogifromNY on May 31, 2014, 2:18 GMT

    As a disappointed RR fan, I wanted KXIP and KKR to meet in the finals, not the two teams all neutral fans love to hate: MI and CSK. So glad I got to see Sehwag in full flow today: imperious as of old, dominating without seeming to break a sweat, and casually rising to more and better heights as the innings progressed. Really glad Punjab fought back to win this one. When Raina was in full flow, I switched off the live telecast as I could not bear the thought of Sehwag's effort being in vain. As Fuloria observes, there can't be too many such innings in the tank for him now. But boy, is he good when he is on song, as he was today. Take a bow, Virender! There hasn't been anyone quite like you and there probably won't be. God bless!

  • CricketChat on May 31, 2014, 2:08 GMT

    Shewag's innings today was the reason Kings XI won today even though Raina was intent on spoiling the party for Punjab. Brought back memories of his vintage knocks in his prime. That said, I don't think he has a chance to come back to Ind team again. At the same time, I wish Shewag continues to play first class cricket. When he succeeds, batting becomes really a fun thing to watch.

  • DarthKetan on May 31, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    To Viru's son: Grow up and in a few years, start watching the tapes of Sehwag batting....Not for no reason is there a Church of Sehwagology ;) Son, he wasn't just good....he was brilliant!!! A trailblazer of an opener in Tests and a modern day great for that. Happy from inside indeed - never been this involved with an IPL inning before.....rooting for KXIP now in the Dil Se final!!

  • on May 30, 2014, 23:38 GMT

    What an innings! a perfect highlights of his entire career in one match... True vintage memories... The whole match was simply amazing... Like Harsha Bhogle says... if you haven't watched this match you don't like Cricket!

  • LoveTeamIndia on May 30, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    I sat in front of the TV to see another "Maxwell mayhem", but got to see something even greater, a "Sehwag special". After Richards, Kapil, and Lara, no one other than Sehwag has entertained viewers so much over many years! This innings even made me think of the Oscar-winning movie "The Artist" whose hero rises from the ashes to produce one more memorable performance. Good luck Sehwag and KXIP on the final. Even if you lose that, I will remember your performance this year for a long time.

  • LoveTeamIndia on May 30, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    I sat in front of the TV to see another "Maxwell mayhem", but got to see something even greater, a "Sehwag special". After Richards, Kapil, and Lara, no one other than Sehwag has entertained viewers so much over many years! This innings even made me think of the Oscar-winning movie "The Artist" whose hero rises from the ashes to produce one more memorable performance. Good luck Sehwag and KXIP on the final. Even if you lose that, I will remember your performance this year for a long time.

  • on May 30, 2014, 23:38 GMT

    What an innings! a perfect highlights of his entire career in one match... True vintage memories... The whole match was simply amazing... Like Harsha Bhogle says... if you haven't watched this match you don't like Cricket!

  • DarthKetan on May 31, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    To Viru's son: Grow up and in a few years, start watching the tapes of Sehwag batting....Not for no reason is there a Church of Sehwagology ;) Son, he wasn't just good....he was brilliant!!! A trailblazer of an opener in Tests and a modern day great for that. Happy from inside indeed - never been this involved with an IPL inning before.....rooting for KXIP now in the Dil Se final!!

  • CricketChat on May 31, 2014, 2:08 GMT

    Shewag's innings today was the reason Kings XI won today even though Raina was intent on spoiling the party for Punjab. Brought back memories of his vintage knocks in his prime. That said, I don't think he has a chance to come back to Ind team again. At the same time, I wish Shewag continues to play first class cricket. When he succeeds, batting becomes really a fun thing to watch.

  • YogifromNY on May 31, 2014, 2:18 GMT

    As a disappointed RR fan, I wanted KXIP and KKR to meet in the finals, not the two teams all neutral fans love to hate: MI and CSK. So glad I got to see Sehwag in full flow today: imperious as of old, dominating without seeming to break a sweat, and casually rising to more and better heights as the innings progressed. Really glad Punjab fought back to win this one. When Raina was in full flow, I switched off the live telecast as I could not bear the thought of Sehwag's effort being in vain. As Fuloria observes, there can't be too many such innings in the tank for him now. But boy, is he good when he is on song, as he was today. Take a bow, Virender! There hasn't been anyone quite like you and there probably won't be. God bless!

  • Puneetbat on May 31, 2014, 3:29 GMT

    Hi everyone, I am a huge sehwag fan and its was heartening to see him back in action. I read the article and I understand the tone infers that just his century can not be a reason enough to include him in the team. I agree to disagree, I know he cannot be included in the team because of his inconsistency, but hey he has never been known for consistency. He is an Impact player and if he bats for 12 overs in any match/format thats enough to *TERRORIZE the bowlers. 2 triple tons. Just for the records. 5/9 fastest 200's in test matches were made by Sehwag. The least he deserves is a respectable exit. #wewantsehwagback :)

  • here2rock on May 31, 2014, 4:00 GMT

    It was a fantastic innings against a weak attack, at the writer said that it brought back a lot of great memories from the greatest Indian batsman in my opinion but still something was missing, not the same ease he disposed the bowlers all around the world, it required a lot more effort in this innings. I thought Raina played better innings and unfortunately he got run out.

  • on May 31, 2014, 6:03 GMT

    awesome article sir....I ALWAYS used to have poetic feelings when Sehwag bats........u described them today.Respect for the Legend

  • on May 31, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    Dnt want to admit nut had tears in my eyes after reading this......we miss u Sehwag Sir

  • cricarch on May 31, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    Great Article! This inning was indeed a special one that took me back 6-7 years. When Sehwag was a serious threat to bowlers and they planned strategies around him, and not Sachin or Dravid! He was the only one I used to watch a test match for. Absolute beautiful and brilliant placements, sound of the bat, stand-and-deliver shots, everything about him was a treat to your eyes. I missed him for last few years and those memories are fast fading away. Then came this IPL and we saw some flashes of his brilliance and carefree shots in few innings. I was always hopeful that he will turn it big in this tournament. But this big, oh boy, this came as a huge surprise! And what a lovely one! I woke up at 7 (pacific time zone) to watch the match and his inning made my day. I would love to see him back in the national team. If this innings is not enough to make his case stronger, which it seems, I wish he hits a couple of more tons to delight our fans and find his way back to the big league.