March 20, 2013

Memories of Virender

Now that his best is likely behind him, let us look back on some Sehwag classics
  shares 73

I was in southern China when I heard Virender Sehwag had been dropped. The news didn't leave a mark, for cricket is not something much spoken of in the People's Republic. Then, a week later, on the plane back home, I began listening to Bismillah Khan, and the memories began to crowd my mind. As my playlist went through "Nand Kedar", "Shyam Kalyan", "Yaman", "Durga" and the rest, I thought only of the maverick genius from Najafgarh, of his walk, his demeanour, the coloured cloth tied around his head, and, from time to time, of the range and subtlety of his strokeplay. Every innings of his that I ever saw was replayed in as much detail as the mind of a 55-year-old will allow.

That it was Bismillah Khan who set me on to Sehwag may not have been an accident. Bismillah was one of the Fab Five of India's Great Modern Instrumentalists, in character closer to this particular opening batsman than were the others. Nikhil Banerjee was quiet and understated, Vilayat Khan angular and complicated, Ravi Shankar focused and ambitious, Ali Akbar Khan enigmatic, even inscrutable. Bismillah, like Sehwag, was both joyful and guileless (perhaps the two must go together).

As the shehnai played all around me, I went back - as historians are trained to do - to the beginning. I first saw Sehwag bat in a one-day match against Australia, in Bangalore, shortly after the epic Kolkata Test of 2001. Known then as an offspinning allrounder, Sehwag came in to bat low down the order. To his second or third delivery, he walked down the wicket and hit the greatest bowler since SF Barnes down towards where my son and I sat in the BEML Stand. It was a statement of intent - that was how he would always play, regardless of the state of the game or the reputation of the bowler. Warne or Murali, Pollock or McGrath, they all came and went the same way. Sehwag went on here to score a fifty, and to take three wickets in an Indian win.

Later that year I saw him play a Test match against England. The scorecard tells me that he hit 13 boundaries in a score of 66. I suppose some must have been glides past point and flicks past midwicket. The boundary I remember best came early in his innings.

Sachin Tendulkar was batting at the other end. The Master had got fluently to 50, but was then tied up by Ashley Giles, bowling over the wicket. Sachin thrust his ample backside at the ball, padding up, time and again. On the other hand, Sehwag smartly reverse-swept the first ball he received from the left-arm spinner for four. We were impressed, but his partner, apparently, was unnerved. When he next faced Giles, Sachin ran aimlessly down the wicket and was out for 90, stumped for the first time in his Test career.

In the summer of 2002 I was in England on work. An indulgent friend got me a press pass for the Lord's Test. India went in to bat at tea on the second day, after England had amassed 487. Sehwag, by now an opener, played some exquisite drives and cuts off the fast bowlers. When Ashley Giles came on to bowl, he immediately hit him through and over cover for two fours. The spinner, in fright (or flight), went over the wicket. Sehwag now made room to drive through the off side again, missed, and was bowled.

After play ended, I ran into Michael Atherton in the media centre's tea room. He was critical of Sehwag. "He should have played for stumps," he said, "rather than be reckless and expose Sachin at the end of the day." I disagreed. The way Sehwag got to 84 was also the way he got out. He could not, would not, bat like a conventional opener - that is to say, like Michael Atherton.

Or indeed like Sunil Gavaskar. Which brings me to the most extended Sehwag innings I saw, which was played at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in the last week of March 2005. Pakistan, batting first, had scored in excess of 500. India had to bat ten overs at the end of the second day, during which time they got to 55, the bulk of the scoring, naturally, by Sehwag.

The next day, he proceeded crisply and elegantly to a double-century. Mohammad Sami pitched up, at 90 miles an hour; he went back at twice the pace, the ball whizzing down the ground to the sightscreen. Abdul Razzak was taken for fours past and behind point. The offspinner Arshad Khan was swept fine and hoicked over midwicket. The legspinner Danish Kaneria was cut, pulled, and driven for boundaries. It was a seamless, flawless innings, which ended shortly after tea, when Sehwag was caught-and-bowled by Kaneria.

I was sitting this time in the press box, with my friend the cricket writer Suresh Menon. During the afternoon session, after Sehwag had hit one of this 30 boundaries, Suresh turned to me and said: "Ram, either Merchant or Gavaskar has now to go from our all-time India XI." I agreed, reluctantly (the cricketing preferences and prejudices of one's boyhood are hard to shake). But which one? As Suresh and I debated the question, a former Test player of the 1970s (who must remain unnamed) said: "If Sunny [then upstairs in the commentary box] was to hear you both, he would start composing a column about how it is in the team's best interests for Sehwag to bat in the middle order."

But an opener Sehwag remained. Close to two years later, against Pakistan in Lahore, India ended the fourth day at 403 for no loss. Sehwag had made 247 of those runs, outscoring his partner two to one. Siddhartha Vaidyanathan, writing on this site, said: "Sehwag produced an off-side masterclass - only nine of his 46 fours came on the leg side", in reaching the second-fastest double-hundred of all time.

At his age, and given how much his batsmanship depends on his eyesight and his reflexes, we have really seen the end of Sehwag as we knew him

ESPNcricinfo focused on the cricket, whereas other journalists were looking for other stories. At the press conference afterwards, the Indian openers were asked how it felt to be a mere ten runs short of the record partnership of Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy. Rahul Dravid said something about the greatness of Mankad and the burden of history. Sehwag, asked the same question, said something like: "Who is this Mankad?"

The answers were flashed along the wires to Bangalore, where a television channel demanded my reaction to the varying tone of the openers' remarks. I was in bed, with a broken foot, from where I told the reporter to calm down, to not see this as ignorance or foolishness but as a spontaneous and indeed joyous expression of the man's personality. Dravid, faced with a chest-high bouncer from Dale Steyn, would play it discreetly down to his feet. Sehwag, in the same situation, would sway his body backwards and slash the ball over slips for four. Had Sehwag ever known of Vinoo Mankad, he would never have played for India at all.

As a batsman, Sehwag was sui generis. There was, however, a bowler who shared some of the same characteristics, cricketing as well as personal. He likewise played by instinct and touch rather than by technique or tradition. He too was wayward and whimsical. On a wicket helpful to him, he might go for none for plenty; on a flat track, he might slice through the opposition like a knife through butter. Withal, like Sehwag he was a truly great player, who won Tests for India at home and abroad. Like him, he was a cheery, ever-smiling lad who played with a splendid lack of concern for the record books. This fellow would be pencilled in last in my mythical India All-time XI, perfectly complementing, in all senses, the man placed at the top of the order.

Unlike Dravid (or Laxman), Virender Sehwag has not yet formally retired from the game. Yet I sense that the act of removing him from the Test side will be decisive. At his age, and given how much his batsmanship depends on his eyesight and his reflexes, we have really seen the end of Sehwag as we knew him. Which is why I lay awake all night on the Air China flight from Beijing, recalling the times I had seen him bat.

When the plane landed, it was 1.30am in New Delhi. I had a long taxi ride to my hotel. I had thought enough about Sehwag - now I wanted to talk. Who among my cricketing companions could I speak with? Suresh Menon and Mukul Kesavan were asleep. TG Vaidyanathan and Sujit Mukherjee were dead. So I rang up my son, still awake and alert in America. We discussed the many innings by Sehwag we had seen, singly or together, and then the innings we would have liked to have seen.

We both agreed that, forced to choose only one knock, it would have to be the 155 he scored at Chepauk in October 2004, made after Anil Kumble had spun out the Australians on the first day. Recall that Anil got six wickets the second time around. At close of play on the fourth day India were 19 for no loss, Sehwag 12 not out (all boundaries). Another 210 runs were required to win. It rained all night, and not a ball was bowled on the morrow.

As the taxi entered the driveway of my hotel, I decided I must (as fathers tend to) have the last word. "The two people I feel most sorry for today," I said to my son, "are TG Vaidyanathan and yourself." Why, he asked, allowing me to express, in my own voice, the words he knew were coming. I did. "TGV did not watch Virender Sehwag bat. And you did not watch BS Chandrasekhar bowl."

Historian and cricket writer Ramachandra Guha is the author of A Corner of A Foreign Field and Wickets in the East among other books

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Kazimabidi on | March 21, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    Thanks Guha for this heart touching tribute. Gems like Sehwag are absolutely rare. He was always on the minds of rival skippers who looked for a safe lead before declaring. His 195 in Sydney instilled audacity in the Indian batting line up which lasts till today. He always scored heavily against Pakistan and is one of the biggest reasons for Indian success against their arch rivals in the last decade. I love to watch his elegant cover & point drives, exquisite cuts & flicks & an occasional down the wicket loft in the V area. There are many today who score runs at a great strike rate but its the elegance that sets him apart from the likes of Dhoni, Gambhir, Chanderpaul and even Pietersen. Whenever he played and whatever he scored, it was a sheer delight to watch him. Unfortunately, like the brilliance of a shooting star, he lasted as long as his eye sight was good. I hope he can play a little more. He always wanted to be a middle order batsmen. Least we can do is to give him his due.

  • POSTED BY Azfar on | March 21, 2013, 0:32 GMT

    Great article, Mr Guha. It clearly shows the love and passion for the game you have. No doubt Sehwag is one of a kind. A Test Opener like him has never been seen before. He turned all notions of what makes a test opener on its head. His strike rate in tests in around 95. For a long time at the start of his career we felt that he can't keep going like this but he did. He did give all us great joy and excitement. I understand at this point you just want to celebrate that. But if this is the end it certainly is a sad one. His one dimensional style of playing whatever the situation might be was at once his biggest quality as well a drawback. As long as India was doing well it was easy to forgive. But once we started losing heavily in the last 2 years, it became a huge irritant. I agree with you that this seems to be the Sehwag as we know him, hence let's celebrate what he did rather than focus on what more could have been.......

  • POSTED BY InsideHedge on | March 20, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    Thank-you Mr. Guha for a lovely read. I attended the 1979 1st Test @Edgbaston test when the touring Indians played England, it was to be my 1st sighting of the Indians in Tests, I was excited to see Chandra, Bedi, Venkat (Pras had already finished) but David Gower made a superb double ton and it turned out to be Chandra's last ever Test Match.

    Last summer, I mentioned it to DI Gower as I collected his autograph and in typically modest fashion David insisted that the wicket was an absolute beauty. Still, all our spinners were past their best, they had already been mauled in Pakistan just a few months earlier, twas the end of an era. But together, the foursome snared 800+ Test scalps, they were indeed great and brought us great pride - as did Sehwag.

  • POSTED BY Karthickk on | March 20, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    My most favorite innings of Sehwag is the 293 he hit against SL at Mumbai. I could not take eye of a single ball in that innings. I still cherish that innings from Sehwag, pure joy. He literally toyed with the SL bowling. The SL captain was making changes almost every other ball and Sehwag would find gaps based on the new fields settings which was then plugged only to find a new gap. This cat and mouse game continued till 293 runs had come from Sehwag's bat. Finally was out to Murali in a tame way and his expression was really great, not a single bit of regret that he missed a chance to create history by being the first batsman to hit three triple centuries. Instead he smiled and in the post match conference he said he was happy to score 293 runs. What a player, but I have to concede that he is past his prime, which is fine. It does not diminish the joy he provided during his hay days even a bit.

  • POSTED BY Pinarsh255 on | March 20, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    Great tribute sir.

    I am also unfortunate, in this regard, BS Chandrasekhar retired before I was born. But is it true that he was the only bowler who troubled King Viv?

    As for Sehwag, it doesn't change my love and admiration for me if he doesn't get a recall, which seems very probable at this time. He walks straight into my all time best India XI. People might call him flat track bulley, underachiever in oneday format, careless batsman. In fact out of disappointment I have said these things to my friends. But the shear joy, the excitement he brings into the game is incomparable. Cricket needs character like him. Greame Swann once said that England top order is a sleeping pill. For last 10 years or so we were lucky in this regard. Sehwag will make a cricket lover awake from half sleep.

  • POSTED BY baba6660 on | March 20, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Wonderful article…Thanks for writing so well. Sehwag is indeed the greatest opening batsmen who represented India and he is a player who can change the complexion of the game in a single session. Dropping him is disrespectful and that too at Mohali where he would have loved the ball coming on to the bat. Record books show that he has played 6 matches at Mohali scoring an aggregate of 645 runs at an average of 58.63. He scored two centuries at Mohali and one of these was a big 173.

  • POSTED BY jafer4234 on | March 23, 2013, 16:08 GMT

    Indian test cricket will be at loss if Sehwag is not named as Sachin's replacement, once Sachin retires. We have seen the genius define the roll of an opener. Now he will be showing a new definition to No 4 in tests. Surely he got to be there in S.A .. hope he comes good in IPL and plays county cricket and surely he has got 3-4 years of cricket left in him. Hoping to see some more entertaining knocks in test cricket.... All the best VIRU -- for your 3rd coming in Indian cricket

  • POSTED BY Karan_Dharma on | March 23, 2013, 2:56 GMT

    Indian Cricketer,who can fix the Victory even One day or Test match ....... one and only man out of 11 and with two names Viru, Sehwag.... . The Statement was told by many people... But the statement still young...

  • POSTED BY Harmony111 on | March 22, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    @amitgarg78 & itsthewayuplay:

    Viru could not be counted in the Fab Four cos he was the Fifth Element :-p I am not kidding here. He really was the element that completed our batting. On his day (which are numerous) he was as destructive as Krakatoa and Katrina. We have always had a weaker bowling attack and so we needed more time to take 20 wickets. Viru gave us that time by doing in 3 sessions what others would do in 4 and a half.

    Viru may have played his last match for India (though I pray not) his recent poor days will not sully his image to me. We in India are so much demanding that we forget what a champion did for us in the distant past if he fails in the recent past. Do we not remember those sick and ungrateful Indian fans who blamed Sachin for our WC 03 loss by saying he failed in the big match?

    If Viru is not a genius then who is? 2 Triples Tons (perhaps the fastest ever), career SR of 80+, avg of ~50. Pls compare that to Gilchrist.

    He was our Force of Nature. Period.

  • POSTED BY on | March 22, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    In my opinion, the most crucial thing that Sehwag did is give time to our weak bowling attack to bowl out opposition twice and the fear in opposition captains to declare with a lead least than at least 200. This is what made India no 1 in tests. Not surprisingly, the abrupt deterioration of team's fortune coincided with the slump in Sehwag's form. Hope, he finds his mojo with the axe like Ganguly did for final few tests. Greatest match-winner after Kumble for India.

  • POSTED BY Kazimabidi on | March 21, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    Thanks Guha for this heart touching tribute. Gems like Sehwag are absolutely rare. He was always on the minds of rival skippers who looked for a safe lead before declaring. His 195 in Sydney instilled audacity in the Indian batting line up which lasts till today. He always scored heavily against Pakistan and is one of the biggest reasons for Indian success against their arch rivals in the last decade. I love to watch his elegant cover & point drives, exquisite cuts & flicks & an occasional down the wicket loft in the V area. There are many today who score runs at a great strike rate but its the elegance that sets him apart from the likes of Dhoni, Gambhir, Chanderpaul and even Pietersen. Whenever he played and whatever he scored, it was a sheer delight to watch him. Unfortunately, like the brilliance of a shooting star, he lasted as long as his eye sight was good. I hope he can play a little more. He always wanted to be a middle order batsmen. Least we can do is to give him his due.

  • POSTED BY Azfar on | March 21, 2013, 0:32 GMT

    Great article, Mr Guha. It clearly shows the love and passion for the game you have. No doubt Sehwag is one of a kind. A Test Opener like him has never been seen before. He turned all notions of what makes a test opener on its head. His strike rate in tests in around 95. For a long time at the start of his career we felt that he can't keep going like this but he did. He did give all us great joy and excitement. I understand at this point you just want to celebrate that. But if this is the end it certainly is a sad one. His one dimensional style of playing whatever the situation might be was at once his biggest quality as well a drawback. As long as India was doing well it was easy to forgive. But once we started losing heavily in the last 2 years, it became a huge irritant. I agree with you that this seems to be the Sehwag as we know him, hence let's celebrate what he did rather than focus on what more could have been.......

  • POSTED BY InsideHedge on | March 20, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    Thank-you Mr. Guha for a lovely read. I attended the 1979 1st Test @Edgbaston test when the touring Indians played England, it was to be my 1st sighting of the Indians in Tests, I was excited to see Chandra, Bedi, Venkat (Pras had already finished) but David Gower made a superb double ton and it turned out to be Chandra's last ever Test Match.

    Last summer, I mentioned it to DI Gower as I collected his autograph and in typically modest fashion David insisted that the wicket was an absolute beauty. Still, all our spinners were past their best, they had already been mauled in Pakistan just a few months earlier, twas the end of an era. But together, the foursome snared 800+ Test scalps, they were indeed great and brought us great pride - as did Sehwag.

  • POSTED BY Karthickk on | March 20, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    My most favorite innings of Sehwag is the 293 he hit against SL at Mumbai. I could not take eye of a single ball in that innings. I still cherish that innings from Sehwag, pure joy. He literally toyed with the SL bowling. The SL captain was making changes almost every other ball and Sehwag would find gaps based on the new fields settings which was then plugged only to find a new gap. This cat and mouse game continued till 293 runs had come from Sehwag's bat. Finally was out to Murali in a tame way and his expression was really great, not a single bit of regret that he missed a chance to create history by being the first batsman to hit three triple centuries. Instead he smiled and in the post match conference he said he was happy to score 293 runs. What a player, but I have to concede that he is past his prime, which is fine. It does not diminish the joy he provided during his hay days even a bit.

  • POSTED BY Pinarsh255 on | March 20, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    Great tribute sir.

    I am also unfortunate, in this regard, BS Chandrasekhar retired before I was born. But is it true that he was the only bowler who troubled King Viv?

    As for Sehwag, it doesn't change my love and admiration for me if he doesn't get a recall, which seems very probable at this time. He walks straight into my all time best India XI. People might call him flat track bulley, underachiever in oneday format, careless batsman. In fact out of disappointment I have said these things to my friends. But the shear joy, the excitement he brings into the game is incomparable. Cricket needs character like him. Greame Swann once said that England top order is a sleeping pill. For last 10 years or so we were lucky in this regard. Sehwag will make a cricket lover awake from half sleep.

  • POSTED BY baba6660 on | March 20, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Wonderful article…Thanks for writing so well. Sehwag is indeed the greatest opening batsmen who represented India and he is a player who can change the complexion of the game in a single session. Dropping him is disrespectful and that too at Mohali where he would have loved the ball coming on to the bat. Record books show that he has played 6 matches at Mohali scoring an aggregate of 645 runs at an average of 58.63. He scored two centuries at Mohali and one of these was a big 173.

  • POSTED BY jafer4234 on | March 23, 2013, 16:08 GMT

    Indian test cricket will be at loss if Sehwag is not named as Sachin's replacement, once Sachin retires. We have seen the genius define the roll of an opener. Now he will be showing a new definition to No 4 in tests. Surely he got to be there in S.A .. hope he comes good in IPL and plays county cricket and surely he has got 3-4 years of cricket left in him. Hoping to see some more entertaining knocks in test cricket.... All the best VIRU -- for your 3rd coming in Indian cricket

  • POSTED BY Karan_Dharma on | March 23, 2013, 2:56 GMT

    Indian Cricketer,who can fix the Victory even One day or Test match ....... one and only man out of 11 and with two names Viru, Sehwag.... . The Statement was told by many people... But the statement still young...

  • POSTED BY Harmony111 on | March 22, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    @amitgarg78 & itsthewayuplay:

    Viru could not be counted in the Fab Four cos he was the Fifth Element :-p I am not kidding here. He really was the element that completed our batting. On his day (which are numerous) he was as destructive as Krakatoa and Katrina. We have always had a weaker bowling attack and so we needed more time to take 20 wickets. Viru gave us that time by doing in 3 sessions what others would do in 4 and a half.

    Viru may have played his last match for India (though I pray not) his recent poor days will not sully his image to me. We in India are so much demanding that we forget what a champion did for us in the distant past if he fails in the recent past. Do we not remember those sick and ungrateful Indian fans who blamed Sachin for our WC 03 loss by saying he failed in the big match?

    If Viru is not a genius then who is? 2 Triples Tons (perhaps the fastest ever), career SR of 80+, avg of ~50. Pls compare that to Gilchrist.

    He was our Force of Nature. Period.

  • POSTED BY on | March 22, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    In my opinion, the most crucial thing that Sehwag did is give time to our weak bowling attack to bowl out opposition twice and the fear in opposition captains to declare with a lead least than at least 200. This is what made India no 1 in tests. Not surprisingly, the abrupt deterioration of team's fortune coincided with the slump in Sehwag's form. Hope, he finds his mojo with the axe like Ganguly did for final few tests. Greatest match-winner after Kumble for India.

  • POSTED BY on | March 22, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    Trust Guha, to pen down the romanticism of watching Sehwag which is actually in stark contrast to the art of batting by the butcher of Najafgarh. Either ways being born too late to actually enjoy the freakish genius of a Chandrashekahar or the majestic daredevilry of Sir Vivian Richards, have to say Virender Sehwag is the closest to the heart racing goosebumps which test batting provides that i have ever seen. Thank u for this article Guha sir.

  • POSTED BY amitgarg78 on | March 22, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    @clarke501 The reference was just in terms of interest they generate. not going to disrespect cook, who is headed to being a legend in his own right.

    @ itsthewayuplay i guess we can agree to disagree. i will not try to convince you but I will never be convinced that there was a better opener in team (ever) after sunny. People can talk of veeru not adapting to the situation, but he was capable of that too and did that in Lanka as well as in Australia. his natural game put fear in the opposition and set up games. So i don't blame him for trying to do what he was good at. I could argue that Laxman performed only when it got sticky. With his talents, he should've been more successful but that doesnt take away his contribution to Indian cricket. Likewise, Sehwag's contribution is immense in my view. if you are frustrated that he didnt go on to play to his potential, i might agree in part, but he was (is) a game changer.

  • POSTED BY on | March 22, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    I have a confession to make. Please make it two. I am an unabashed admirer of Sehwag & so many times in the past for me the match was over when Sehwag was out. Also, Ramchandra Guha has been one of my favorite authors. This piece is a moving tribute from the heart of a genuine fan. How I wish the cricket pundits' predictions about Sehwag's career now being over turn out to be a little premature. While I welcome the ascendance of Murali Vijay & Shikhar Dhawan (also Ajinkya Rahane) as openers, and I wish them (Gambhir included) all the best, my fervent wish is for Sehwag to rise once more from ashes like phoenix and prove his critics wrong. Rather than simply fading into oblivion just like that, it would have been a fitting finale to see Sehwag walk into the sunset with all guns blazing. As an aside, I too do not find an easy answer to the dilemma of which of the two great bowlers to exclude - Chandra or Kumble - from my all time Indian Test Eleven.

  • POSTED BY on | March 21, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    your article taken me back to olden days i have got the privilege to watch chandra sir bowling to west indies in Bangalore 1979 spectators were supporting with rhythmic claps to his run-up and regarding viru i thought your article is too early i think he will be back with a bang. Sir if you are naming your entertainer eleven i hope vishy will be included in that team. i have privileged in watching kiri, vishy, chandra although in league matches.

  • POSTED BY on | March 21, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    He changed the definition of an opener in test cricket. I am really going to miss him.

  • POSTED BY Vipul_Kaushik on | March 21, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    Amazing tribute Sir. The last line brought goosebumps to me. My fav inning of this legend has to be the one he scored in Chennai after Mumbai blasts (for the brutality of the innings and of course sentimental reasons). 10-15 years down the line when people see the scoreline and see that Sehwag received the Man of the Match, instead of the greatest player this game has ever seen, they won't understand the rationale. But whoever has witnessed that inning, I must say you guys are lucky. In my mind I know Sehwag is down and dusted, but considering my romanticism attached to this game, my heart just thinks of these lines from the famous song by Survivor -

    Risin' up, back on the street Did my time, took my chances Went the distance now I'm back on my feet Just a man and his will to survive.

  • POSTED BY balajeev on | March 21, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    There were so many matches in which Indian hopes died with Sehwag's dismissal. The most heartbreaking was the king pair in the 3rd test in England 2011. It completely demoralised the team and the watching public and sealed England's dominance in that series.

  • POSTED BY itsthewayuplay on | March 21, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    @amitgarg78 as far I'm aware it was always the Fab Four and for good reason. Dravid was India's best player in terms of his classical strokeplay and inner steel saving India from defeat and turning in matchwinning innings, Tendulkar in his prime played incredible innings and took attacks apart with his near perfect technique in his prime, Laxman was a magician and his bat was his wand, even more of a strokeplayer than Tendulkar, and like Dravid was a match winner and saver. Ganguly the elegant left-hander of the quartet was the leader of his team and changed Indian cricket and in particular ended regionalism in selection as far as was within his control. There's no doubt Sehwag has played some entertaining knocks but these were far and few between considering he played for 10 years and has to balanced with reckless of his shot selection, poor technique and attitude that cost India dear more often than not. Sehwag simply does not belong in the same class as these four players.

  • POSTED BY on | March 21, 2013, 12:50 GMT

    An Amazing article Mr. Guha. It would had been a real gem if you would have touched upon the two triples that Seh-wack had made.....Those were like terrorist attacks on the two most prolific sides in Test cricket.....

  • POSTED BY prince1974 on | March 21, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    Looking back on Sehwag's career leaves one with a sense of unfulfilled dreams,of what may have been,Nevertheless,I am grateful that for 10 years,the most feared opener in world cricket played for my team.Hope he come back to the team for SA,probably in the middle order.

  • POSTED BY SamRoy on | March 21, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    My favourite Indian batsman and I am an Indian. The joy he brought to me when he was in full flow is indescribable. A genius for boundary hitting. I have never seen anyone who could hit boundaries like Sehwag could. Just played 2 test matches too many. Any way India won both tests so can't fault him much. A real entertainer and credit to the game. Certainly more important than Mike Denness ever was to the game of cricket (he who threatened to nip Sehwag's career in the bud).

  • POSTED BY IndiaChampspakchumps on | March 21, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    Sehwag regularly destroyed pakistani bowling. His 309 against them is his best.

  • POSTED BY on | March 21, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    For a change I shall not discuss about Viru or CHandra - I congrat Shri Guha for another masterpiece. Your writing specially when writing on cricket personalities touches the crescendo of all musical notes. I enjoy your writing. Like their exploits with bat or ball whether writing on Vishy, Dravid and now Sehwag, you also weave magic with pen. Thanks

  • POSTED BY gmcan on | March 21, 2013, 3:12 GMT

    sehwag is a classic example of a player not managed properly. he needs someone like wright or kirsten who let him be and give him confidence and not someone like chappell or llyod who tell him how to play.

  • POSTED BY realfan on | March 21, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    sehwag is one of the all time greats the cricket has ever produced....who would have a strike rate of 80+ for 100+ test matches with average of 50..... he got 6 test double hundreds , 2 triple hundreds in that, 1 away from home..... i have been watching him since his start of play.....he was very keen to accept challenges, he was asked to open test innings in SA, he was amazing their.... he was asked to open in ODI is won matches for india......he has such a huge reputation in cricket..... LEGEND

  • POSTED BY realfan on | March 21, 2013, 2:54 GMT

    @legfinedeep just like many other legends , he is very good at home and not too bad away as you are saying..... you can compare the stats of ponting, pieterson, ian bell, and may other of those aus, SA, England players who are averaging above 50 at their home and their average in subcontinent drops to mere 20+.....but the fact is INDIANs or sehwag for that fact has done better away than the players of AUS, SA, ENG have done in india...... simple logic that any cricket fan can understand.....

  • POSTED BY YAYAVAR on | March 20, 2013, 21:41 GMT

    Thank you for the wonderful article on Sehwag. I think it will be a big mistake to leave him out of the team. Every player has his lean period and Sehwag is going through that. Instead of encouraging him, the selectors are showing him the door. For the upcoming tour of South Africa, we do need Sehwag. His mere presence at the crease can spell doom for the opposing team. He is an aggressive and a natural player; and he will not and cannot change his batting style just for the sake of team or game. I am sure you will agree with me that many more years of cricket are left in him. Let us show respect to this genius opener India has produced in a long time. No one can replace him just as Sachin. It was and will always be a treat to watch Sehwag playing his natural game no matter what format it is.

  • POSTED BY Temuzin on | March 20, 2013, 21:24 GMT

    Sehwag was a great batsman who provided joy to millions when he was in full flow. I am a fan of his. He played the game as a free man. Free from situation,bowlers and records. Did not care a bit about records. His motto' See the ball hit the ball" showed his character, simple straightforward and care free. Well done Sehwag. But now due to failing eyesight and age. He may not be able to see the ball to hit hit. I think its right time for him to call it a quit.

  • POSTED BY Harmony111 on | March 20, 2013, 19:06 GMT

    In my eyes, Viru's best knock was his triple ton vs Pak. There he destroyed Shoaib, Saqlain, Sami completely. It was the first triple by an Indian and it came vs pak in pak. Just imagine. He was 226* on day one, proof of his dominance.

    I hope and am somewhat sure that Viru will come back. He was a genius and there is still some of it left in him. A bit of luck, some work in gym and a bit more application will see him scoring more of these memorable knocks. Let's hope we see Viru in an Intl match soon.

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 18:58 GMT

    Article is wonderful.Not that much to praise for an ordinary batsman into a top level category.verender Shewag is fine and fit batsman comparing toother openers. Did any one watch Srikanth's batting as an opener, Sidhu?at those years they were much more attacking batsmen.........2001 to 2012 was the period cricket much changed into several formats and .........popularity increased rather than earlier period. People started liking attacking batsmen so shewag became one of them,,,not than anymore .............

  • POSTED BY Saqib_Sheraz on | March 20, 2013, 18:57 GMT

    Dear Ramachandra Guha, Nice article, but you forget to add famous Pakistan vs India 3rd Test in 2006. I don't know that performance you have in your mind or not.

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    All said and done I dont think Sehwag is going to hang up his boots...He will be back again not withstanding new genre of openers. Its only his eyes that needed correctional lenses and i am sure you will see him in the 22 yard strip soon.

  • POSTED BY tally1983 on | March 20, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    my best viru innings is the 80 odd against England at Chennai in 2008. England dominated for four 3 days and 2 sessions, then sehwag in 1 session changed the tide of the game.

    there will be people coming here and saying that he is a flat track bully, but how many great innings has punter et al played on these flat pitches against a poor to average bowling attack. (indias bowling is that level compared to the other major test playing nations).

  • POSTED BY aby_prasad on | March 20, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Hmm...I dont want to sound critical but when you write the memories of Sehwag, you do expect some stories and memories related to his greatest innings and there are more than one! and in more than one country!!! triple in pak, centuries in aus, centuries elsewhere, and a hell of a lot in india and odi around the world. Though it is necessary for a slow momentum build up in an article, and it is given, i get the feeling thats all we got. There is no mention of most of his greatest innings. All I read was one good innings and a lot of plane trips. Sorry about that, but this isn't a real good 'memory of Sehwag' article

  • POSTED BY kalyanbk on | March 20, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    Sehwag's greatness was that he never cared about personal records or his current score.

  • POSTED BY ToTellUTheTruth on | March 20, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    Sehwag ending Saqlain's career. Making mince meat of his supposed theesra....priceless.

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | March 20, 2013, 16:19 GMT

    An excellent write up Mr. Guha. If Gavaskar was the best defensive & technically perfect batsman India ever produced, Sehwag is the best offensive opening bat the Cricket World has ever seen.Sehwag in full flight was a nightmare of any bowler. His technique was totally improvised & he invented many of his own strokes which included paddle sweep & hitting Sixers over the third man fence. At one time Sachin & Viru were easily the best ODI openers in the world. As for his place in the All time Indian openers, he should certainly be the other opener with Gavaskar - the two being diametrically opposite. The best innings from Sehwag in my memory was his ODI double century scored at nearly a S/R of 100. Sehwag was a real MacKoy who has no parrallels in history. He gave so much pleasure thru' his creative art of batsmanship with only one track thinking- total dominance of leather with his swashbuckling bat. Sehwags come once in decades but leave an indellible stamp of greatness - Bravo Viru!

  • POSTED BY SiddharthRaman on | March 20, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    As always, a beautifully worded article from Guha. I was also lucky enough to watch the double century at Chinnaswamy live(had undertaken a 24 hour bus journey prior to that to watch the game and Sehwag ensured that it was totally worth it). My all time favourite Sehwag innings though was the fourth innings 87 he made against England at Chepauk in 2008. That match is remembered more for Sachin's hundred in the chase, but that would not have been possible at all if Sehwag hadn't blasted his way through Harmison, Swann and Co.

  • POSTED BY sameer111111 on | March 20, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    My fav cricketer. How many batsman would refuse a single on 199 while trying to protect the no.11?

  • POSTED BY cyclist00752 on | March 20, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    Beautiful article ... really well written. Though I was also mesmerized by Sehwag, eventually when one scrutinizes his career it can be seen he rarely performed outside the sub-continent. So while he single-handedly one matches in the sub-continent he was an easy wicket overseas. This is the only aspect which would keep me from naming him in the any Cricket XI. He was a horses for courses player.

  • POSTED BY aby_prasad on | March 20, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    I remember Sehwag not just for Indian matches.Remember the many innings he played in Australia,Eng,S.A.,W.I. etc? All brilliant centuries.Especially I remember him getting to a 100 with a six and then when on 194 he tried hitting another six..and that too in Australia!,150 another time in aus! Same style of innings in S.A.,in England or in WI, and more than once!,without even mentioning indian scores!. Ideally he prospers in batting conditions but he has played many a blinders overseas too! After all, he has more double and triple than most despite his limitations! What do you say to that!? Not inconsistent like most flashy players generally!To an extent, he sort of did an impossible thing. He made test cricket interesting and entertaining for non-test fans too. Too good to be true is what many said about him. I for one, would pay money to watch him bat for at least an hour! But not anymore. I guess time catches up with most.Way greater than most bang bang players!

  • POSTED BY balajeev on | March 20, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    One of my biggest regrets is not watching Sehwag's match winning innings of 87 against England at Chennai in 2008. I foolishly watched the other four days of the test match from the stands.

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | March 20, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    An article about Sehwag, a good excuse for unthinkingly trotting out the same tired old cliché. When playing on a flat track, a batsman's job is to bully the opposition, giving his bowlers time to get 20 wickets. Sehwag did (or perhaps still does) his job better than anyone else. Where is the shame in that?

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    Sehwag will be back!! If dhoni can be given so many chances than ..sehwag shud also be given the chances..not to forget that he scored century against touring england..where every batsman struggled!!!

  • POSTED BY nzcricket174 on | March 20, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    His best innings is surely the 80 he scored against England. Sachin got a hundred, but Sehwag got Man of the Match! His innings tore the English apart, they had no answer.

  • POSTED BY shillingsworth on | March 20, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    @amitgarg78 - Why the need for 'Sehwag over Cook'? You pick the best combination of openers. Sehwag and Cook sounds good to me.

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    Thank you RG for the most brilliant write-up on Sehwag. In my opinion Sehwag is one of the very best in cricket today and he definitely deserves a place in all-time India XI. I really fail to understand why people misunderstood Sehwag. Some blame it on his attitude or need to play according to needs of the team etc. etc. Sehwag is a very intelligent and thinking cricketer. I hope he makes a comeback soon.

  • POSTED BY krahuls on | March 20, 2013, 14:09 GMT

    I agree that his 80+ was one of the better innings as it set up the chase for Sachin to complete it. The pace he batted allowed time for the chase as well. Sehwag will always remain the best opening batsman after Gavaskar and will be in my best INDIA XI ever.

  • POSTED BY IMJimmy on | March 20, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    The innings to be seen part matched perfectly with the only innings which I wished could happen. The 3 fours Sehwag hit of a Mcgrath over is still imprinted on my mind. In all likelihood Sehwag could have helped India draw the would-be-lost series.

  • POSTED BY grizzle on | March 20, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    Funnily enough, I have always thought of Sehwag as an uninterested and uninspiring character. For every match that Sehwag won for India, who knows how many he lost with his complete inability to adapt his game to the circumstances? I'd rather have an honest trier any day of the week rather than somebody like Sehwag, who just couldn't give a damn what the needs of the team are.

  • POSTED BY 100_rabh on | March 20, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    Anyone who has played serious cricket at any level will understand how tough it is to play the shots Sehwag played at his pomp. Add a new ball and 140kmph+ speed and it becomes incredulous. Could have been a wonderful test captain also on glimpses of attacking style he showed in few of the matches he captained India. He just needed half of the Dhoni's luck! He could win us a match in the South African tour, should have played whole series against Aussies.

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    Starting to watch cricket in mid 80's where India v/s Pakistan was always a lost course for India even before it started. With the Maliks and Miandads taunting us with the bat and Imran, Wasim, Waqar would blew India away, the one batsman from India who has an amazing record against pakistan and taken the Pakistani attack to cleaners is Viru!!!!!! For this one reason he is the best Indian batsman for me!!!!!! Thank you Viru for all the memories..

  • POSTED BY amitgarg78 on | March 20, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    @itsthewayuplay, The reference to fab 5 is not an accident. Sehwag belongs to that group in Indian cricket for the impact he has had. As far as legacy goes, whether you choose to remember Ponting for his lousy record in India or as a great which he is, is upto you. If sunny taught us we could compete by being the player he was, sehwag set up the games. As someone else too pointed out, sehwag over cook, any day for me.

  • POSTED BY let_me_explain on | March 20, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    It irritates me a lot when people describe him as a flat track bully.I nver understood if he was playing on such flat tracks then why his double and triple centuries were more often than not won matches for India.I think the reason was other batsmen in those matches were ashamed of performing on flat tracks. Well.if he is a flat track bully then let me tell you he is THE greatest Flat track bully world has ever seen.

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    Well written, enjoyed reading it. But I still believe Viru is not finished yet and will be back to dazzle us all over again.

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    Shewag is a boss. And will always be in my top 10 greatest openners. Sad to see what he has become, but lets see what happens.

  • POSTED BY voice_of_reason on | March 20, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    Sehwag was a match winner, which is not something you can say about many batsmen in Test matches. He was also an entertainer, which is something that Test cricket needs. You would rather watch two hours of Sehwag than a day of Cook. And you'd get nearly as many runs. Yes, in the last 18 months or so the eyes and motivation seemed to have gone but what a great 10 years or so he gave us before that. Don't measure his career by statistics alone, good as they may be, remember the width of the smile on your face as you watched him flay attacks all over the park (well mainly all over the off side of the park) without a care in the world.

  • POSTED BY itsthewayuplay on | March 20, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    Sehwag has played some entertaining knocks but more often than not, as Atherton rightly pointed out but Ramachandra Guha refuses to accept exposed the rest of the team to the new ball. India should be grateful that we had a true great in Rahul Dravid to come in first down. He never understood the role of the opener was see off the new ball and his lack of feet movement was exposed 9 times out 10. But Sehwag will and should be remembered as an overrated 1 in 10 flat track bully who could be highly entertaining.

  • POSTED BY rameshkan on | March 20, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Brilliant. The essay is as good as Viru can play, in his pomp. But, I feel the best innings played by Viru is the 80+ he scored, again at Cheenai, against England in the Test after the 26/11 in Mumbai. That really set up India's victory chase of 387, finished in the end by Sachin. He demoralised the English bowlers and they had no answers-rather no questions to be posed- to other batsmen.

  • POSTED BY Flash007 on | March 20, 2013, 10:24 GMT

    The maverick who changed Test opening forever. He got the crowds interested in Test match batting & set up wins where we were staring @ draws or losses. There shall be many wannabes, but only one Sehwag. Cant imagine Tests without him.

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    poorly written. incoherent. unintelligible for the most part. kind of like Sehwag's batting of late :)

  • POSTED BY Halfspinner on | March 20, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    An absolutely brilliant last line. Genius!

  • POSTED BY Porsche997 on | March 20, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    Once in a lifetime player. There wont be another ever for any team as opener.

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, was at the stadium in March 2005, that backfoot punch of Sami still fresh in my mind. The second innings against the Aussies at Chennai in 2004 might well have been his most significant one, that last ball four on fourth day had INTENT written all over it,alas the rains! but he more than made up for it four years later against England at the same venue.

    He said in interviews few years back that he might retire from tests after he plays 100 matches, now that the target has been reached it seems unfortunate he does not get to make the choice.

  • POSTED BY amitgarg78 on | March 20, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    @greendevlin mate you could'nt have gotten it more wrong. Mavericks win you games. They may not score runs every game, but when they do, they make a difference. That's why you remember them. Look no further than Botham in the glorious summer 3 decades ago. How many games did Atherton win for England? or Manjarekar for India?

  • POSTED BY POISONIVY on | March 20, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    Sehwag was THE single major factor for India being at No 1 in tests. Thanks for Excellent article.

  • POSTED BY tickcric on | March 20, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    A beautiful piece. Still think Viru will dazzle again. He is not out, not yet.

  • POSTED BY kharidra on | March 20, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    It is typical of the lucid style of writing to wrap humor, substance, critic, cheek in the tongue comment and performance. Over and above all a sense of nostalgia is brought forth. The uncluttered mind with which any task is approached leaves a stamp of its authority. The genius can have an off color day or possibly several such off color days. It creates frustration and at times helplessness. But at a time when champions were at a premium such personalities like Viru and Chandra emerged in their respective departments of the game and provided several winning moments to cherish in their eras. History has an eye on the events and its results. But very rarely does it portray the unquantifiable stuff that champions are made of. The piece very decently captures the mettle of such champions. It also brings into light how to view such performances for genius is at the end of the day human. The frailty of human notwithstanding it is guileless quality that is the overriding factor of persons.

  • POSTED BY Burmanolo on | March 20, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Dec 2008 Chennai ; India needed to chase 387 against England at the Chepauk, with only four sessions of play remaining. Most teams would have played for the draw, or atleast commenced the chase precariously. But Virender Sehwag, being who he is, began with a relentless assault on the English. He hammered a 68 ball 83, complete with 4 sixes and 11 fours. By the time he got out the bowlers had lost all confidence and Tendulkar and Yuvraj completed the chase - His finest innings. Veeru was and still is the only batsman who can keep a average Indian entertained throughout a test innings. Richie Benaud christened him "A dasher and a thasher", to us he will always be remembered as the only man to go for a six, whilst on 293. All the best to you veeru paaji.

  • POSTED BY GreenDeviln on | March 20, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    I was never a fan of Viru. I would say better play a stable and consistent opener in the team like Alastair Cook than unpredictable and nonconsistent Sehwag. Because at the end consistency and stability wins you matches not the latter one.

  • POSTED BY itismenithin on | March 20, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    really enjoyed reading this, very different from the rest.

  • POSTED BY srikanths on | March 20, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    I have followed cricket in the 70 s , but radio commentary mostly except one or two matches of watching in the stadiums. But I distinctly remember Chandra was one of those who would either get hit badly or take fiver on most unhelpful pitches. He took 16 fivers half of them outside India . Wadekar owed his England series victory in England to him. Real Gentleman as is the case with almost all players from Karnataka.Completely unorthodox, used to bowl leg breeaks at terrific pace(Believe Viv Richards mentioned to Gavasakar ,"maan, some of his balls are as fast as Thommos or some equivalent". Viru , of course inverted the test match grammar, he looked at things as opportunity where others looked as threats. An attacking filed to him was an opportunity and not a threat.

  • POSTED BY boredkumar on | March 20, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    its a beautiful piece and the part about boyhood heroes is so true. I think we should celebrate Sehwag and not worry if he will come back or not.

    On a different note, we still await your next book on cricket. it was a pleasure reading the article.

  • POSTED BY boredkumar on | March 20, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    its a beautiful piece and the part about boyhood heroes is so true. I think we should celebrate Sehwag and not worry if he will come back or not.

    On a different note, we still await your next book on cricket. it was a pleasure reading the article.

  • POSTED BY srikanths on | March 20, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    I have followed cricket in the 70 s , but radio commentary mostly except one or two matches of watching in the stadiums. But I distinctly remember Chandra was one of those who would either get hit badly or take fiver on most unhelpful pitches. He took 16 fivers half of them outside India . Wadekar owed his England series victory in England to him. Real Gentleman as is the case with almost all players from Karnataka.Completely unorthodox, used to bowl leg breeaks at terrific pace(Believe Viv Richards mentioned to Gavasakar ,"maan, some of his balls are as fast as Thommos or some equivalent". Viru , of course inverted the test match grammar, he looked at things as opportunity where others looked as threats. An attacking filed to him was an opportunity and not a threat.

  • POSTED BY itismenithin on | March 20, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    really enjoyed reading this, very different from the rest.

  • POSTED BY GreenDeviln on | March 20, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    I was never a fan of Viru. I would say better play a stable and consistent opener in the team like Alastair Cook than unpredictable and nonconsistent Sehwag. Because at the end consistency and stability wins you matches not the latter one.

  • POSTED BY Burmanolo on | March 20, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Dec 2008 Chennai ; India needed to chase 387 against England at the Chepauk, with only four sessions of play remaining. Most teams would have played for the draw, or atleast commenced the chase precariously. But Virender Sehwag, being who he is, began with a relentless assault on the English. He hammered a 68 ball 83, complete with 4 sixes and 11 fours. By the time he got out the bowlers had lost all confidence and Tendulkar and Yuvraj completed the chase - His finest innings. Veeru was and still is the only batsman who can keep a average Indian entertained throughout a test innings. Richie Benaud christened him "A dasher and a thasher", to us he will always be remembered as the only man to go for a six, whilst on 293. All the best to you veeru paaji.

  • POSTED BY kharidra on | March 20, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    It is typical of the lucid style of writing to wrap humor, substance, critic, cheek in the tongue comment and performance. Over and above all a sense of nostalgia is brought forth. The uncluttered mind with which any task is approached leaves a stamp of its authority. The genius can have an off color day or possibly several such off color days. It creates frustration and at times helplessness. But at a time when champions were at a premium such personalities like Viru and Chandra emerged in their respective departments of the game and provided several winning moments to cherish in their eras. History has an eye on the events and its results. But very rarely does it portray the unquantifiable stuff that champions are made of. The piece very decently captures the mettle of such champions. It also brings into light how to view such performances for genius is at the end of the day human. The frailty of human notwithstanding it is guileless quality that is the overriding factor of persons.

  • POSTED BY tickcric on | March 20, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    A beautiful piece. Still think Viru will dazzle again. He is not out, not yet.

  • POSTED BY POISONIVY on | March 20, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    Sehwag was THE single major factor for India being at No 1 in tests. Thanks for Excellent article.

  • POSTED BY amitgarg78 on | March 20, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    @greendevlin mate you could'nt have gotten it more wrong. Mavericks win you games. They may not score runs every game, but when they do, they make a difference. That's why you remember them. Look no further than Botham in the glorious summer 3 decades ago. How many games did Atherton win for England? or Manjarekar for India?

  • POSTED BY on | March 20, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, was at the stadium in March 2005, that backfoot punch of Sami still fresh in my mind. The second innings against the Aussies at Chennai in 2004 might well have been his most significant one, that last ball four on fourth day had INTENT written all over it,alas the rains! but he more than made up for it four years later against England at the same venue.

    He said in interviews few years back that he might retire from tests after he plays 100 matches, now that the target has been reached it seems unfortunate he does not get to make the choice.