Virender Sehwag was a batter whose name caused fear among bowlers. Known for his flamboyance and carefree attitude off the field, Sehwag had the same style when he stepped out onto the field to perform for his nation with the bat. Against him, it never mattered who the bowlers were; or what type the bowler was.
From McGrath to Akhtar, Lee to Anderson, Warne to Muralitharan, he slammed them all. At the Brabourne Stadium against Sri Lanka, Sehwag had one such day in Mumbai. The field placement, not just that day, never made a difference to him, because when he decided to play what came to his mind, he would go after it regardless of what could or would happen.
The Brabourne Stadium, hosting its first Test match since 1973, was witness to one of the great Test match knocks, as Sehwag astonished viewers with his brilliant stroke play and aggressive intent. Having won the toss and elected to bat first, Sri Lanka posted a competitive total of 393, powered by a Tillakaratne Dilshan century.
The Viru storm begins
Playing against Sri Lanka that day, Viru did what he was always known to do the best. He saw the ball and slammed the ball. The players and viewers around might have thought that it was a Test and that such hurry was nowhere required but Test or T20, the Nawab of Nazafgarh knew only one style to wield his wand. In so many senses, Sehwag is fearlessness personified.
Even a hurting back couldn’t slow him down. Despite boasting the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan, Nuwan Kulasekara, and Rangana Herath, the Sri Lankans had no response to the havoc that Sehwag was hell-bent on wrecking as he made them all look like ordinary net bowlers. In one day he hit 40 fours and seven sixes and the longest boundary-less period he faced was 12 balls. Completing his century in just 101 balls with 13 fours and three sixes, Viru raced to the next 50 runs in merely 29 balls. The carnage continued as he reached his double century from 168, hitting 35 fours and 7 maximums by then, whereas the 250 came up in 207 balls.
By the end of Day 2, Sehwag (284*) was 16 short of becoming the first man to score triple-centuries in the history of Test cricket, beat the record for the most double-centuries by an Indian, became the second-highest scorer of 250-plus scores, beat his record for the most runs by an Indian in a day. When he started the third day, having broken many records, Brian Lara’s 400 was also unsafe. In the fourth over, however, he chipped one straight back to Murali and fell seven short of the 300.
The world looked at it as a missed triple century; his fans cried that he missed the chance to become the first to score three triple centuries in Tests, while Sehwag was content, and was happy for the 293. That’s what the man was like, wasn’t he?