Vintage Sehwag revives old memories

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, viruabsolutely 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. read more...

courtesy cricinfo

Gavaskar says Yuvraj and Sehwag down but not out

Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh have had difficult domestic seasons after being sidelined from the national team, and with the flourishing of a younger bunch of batsmen, their international future looks shaky. Sunil Gavaskar, though, has said both can still force their way back into the Indian team.

In his bid to return, Sehwag has shifted down to the middle order - where he began his career - after a profitable decade as opener. The results, though, have been poor: his fast-bowling team-mate Ashish Nehra has similar batting statistics over the Ranji season.

Yuvraj has been through similarly wretched form, troubled by the pace of Mitchell Johnson during the home ODI series against Australia last year, before extending his lean run in the matches against West Indies and South Africa. The runs haven't returned in three Ranji matches since either.

"(In) Cricket, nothing is impossible," Gavaskar said during the Ranji quarterfinal in Mumbai. "You have one good season, one outstanding season, you can come back. It is up to Yuvraj to show that he has got the burning desire for it. I think he has. And he has just had a bad season. Hopefully he could come back because he adds so much to the Indian team because he is still a top fielder and his spinners does help pick wickets.

"Sehwag also, nothing is impossible in cricket. It is up to these guys to come back with not just hundreds but double hundreds and stuff like that."


Delhi dominate, Sehwag strikes form

Virender Sehwag showed glimpses of his shot-making prowess for an hour and 49 minutes as Delhi's batsmen took apart a below-par Vidarbha attack. On the same Roshanara track where Vidarbha were shot out for 88 on the first day, Sehwag hit his first half-century of the season.

While Sehwag will take most of the headlines, the biggest contributor for Delhi was the experienced Mithun Manhas, who scored his 25th first-class century to stretch the lead to 360 by stumps on the second day.

It is unlikely that captain Gautam Gambhir will extend Delhi's innings further as he would want his bowlers to use the freshness of the Roshanara track on Monday morning to take seven points, which will be crucial to his team's progress.

If Manhas and Sehwag consolidated Delhi's position in the match, wicketkeeper batsman Rahul Yadav (81) and Ashish Nehra (57) - fresh from his six-wicket haul on Saturday - clobbered the Vidarbha bowlers into submission, adding 122 for the eighth wicket. This was Nehra's first 50-plus score in any senior level cricket, and the towering sixes that he hit to cow corner were cheered boisterously by his team-mates.

The pitch had good bounce today as well but it was a mix of better batting and some ordinary bowling that led to Delhi taking a firm grip on the match.

The BCCI had hurriedly sent the head of their Pitches and Grounds committee, Daljit Singh, today to Roshanara, probably to gauge what went wrong with the surface yesterday, but Delhi's batsmen certainly made the track seem less tricky with some solid batting.


Sehwag named Delhi Daredevils captain

Virender Sehwag has been appointed captain of the Delhi Daredevils for the 2011 edition of the Indian Premier League. Sehwag previously led Delhi in the 2008 and 2009 IPL seasons, before handing over the leadership role to Gautam Gambhir, to concentrate on his batting. But with Gambhir playing for Kolkata Knight Riders this season, the responsibility once again passes to Sehwag.

Sehwag said he was excited to captain the side again. "For me there cannot be any other team in the IPL, other than Delhi Daredevils," he told PTI. "As someone who grew up playing cricket in Delhi, I am delighted to be part of the Daredevils and lead the team." Sehwag led Delhi to two semi-finals (2008 and 2009), with the team qualifying for the Twenty20 Champions League 2009. Gambhir took over as captain for the Champions League and IPL 3.

With the team losing several big performers from the last three seasons - Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers, Dirk Nannes and Daniel Vettori have all moved to Bangalore Royal Challengers - it will be interesting to see how Sehwag goes about moulding the side from scratch for the second time.


Virender Sehwag retained by Delhi Daredevils

New Delhi: Virender Sehwag, the world's most dashing batsman, has once again signed up with the Delhi Daredevils on the eve of the IPL-4. Sehwag has been a mainstay for the Delhi Daredevils for the past three seasons, and is the only currently active player to have two Test triple centuries to his name.

"Virender Sehwag is still an iconic player and we are proud to have him as part of the Delhi Daredevils team," said Mr. P B Vanchi, Director Sports for the GMR Group.

"Delhi is my home and Delhi Daredevils is my home team. It is nice to continue with the Daredevils and stay connected with the team and its fans," said Sehwag.


Virender Sehwag to captain Delhi Daredevils in IPL-4

NEW DELHI: Virender Sehwag will lead the Delhi Daredevils in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League. The 32-year-old Delhi opener, a proven match-winner, has been a part of the Delhi Daredevils since its inception in 2008.

"For us Virender Sehwag stands for the Delhi Daredevils credo of "Khelo Front Foot Pe," said Mr. Srinivas Bommidala, Chairman of GMR Sports. "He is a source of inspiration and strength for both young and experienced players. He is a leader who paves the way by example."

"Viru has been an integral part of the Delhi Daredevils from the day it was formed. He has been the face of the team and an icon best suited to lead our team," said Mr. P B Vanchi, Director GMR Sports. "Sehwag's attacking style at the start of the innings sets the tone for the rest of the team."

"For me there cannot be any other team than Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. As someone who grew up playing cricket in Delhi I am very proud to be playing for the Delhi Daredevils. I am delighted to be part of the Delhi Daredevils and lead the team," said Sehwag, who also led the team in the first two seasons of the competition. "I am looking forward to taking the Daredevils to new heights in IPL-4."

Under his leadership, Delhi Daredevils reached the semi-finals in the first two editions of the IPL and also topped the league stage in 2009.


Virender Sehwag gets Padma Shri:

His stroke play has finally impressed those in the corridors of power. Nagafgarh Ka Tendulkar Virender Sehwag has been awarded the Padma Shri Award by the Government of India. He along with badminton ace Saina Nehwal has been chosen for the sports category. Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award after Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan.

The explosive Delhi opener has to be one of the most deserving cricketers to win the award. Although regarded as a better ODI batsman, it is his performance in the Test matches that has contributed to India becoming the No.1 side in Test cricket. He has been one of the most prolific openers in the international cricket in last decade and his huge contributions up the order have helped India register good score both at home and overseas.

Prior to Virender Sehwag's debut the Indian test team had been struggling for a stable opener since the likes Sunil Gavasker, Krishnamachari Srikanth and Ravi Shastri. Although many stop gap combinations were tried there was not a single batsman who could match the opening combinations that the world cricket had throughout the 90s. All this meant that India's performance in Test cricket especially abroad was dismal.

In the early part of the last decade Virender Sehwag burst into the international scene. Nicknamed 'Nagafgarh Ka Tendulkar' for the similarity of this batting to the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag quickly began to terrorize bowlers round the world. Sehwag's logic was simple 'if the ball is to be hit he will hit it.' What else could explain a batsman's temperament who scored a triple century with a six.


Virender Sehwag scores fastest triple century

Virender Sehwag, who was overlooked for last year's series against England, hit back at his critics by smashing the fastest triple century in Test history against South Africa yesterday.

Sehwag, who hit 42 fours and five sixes on his way to 300 from just 278 balls, finished the third day of the first Test in Chennai unbeaten on 309 to equal his own record of the highest score by an Indian in a Test match.

The 29-year-old became the third cricketer - and the first Indian - to record two triple hundreds after Sir Donald Bradman and Brian Lara. Sehwag's knock helped India reach 468-1, 72 short of the Proteas' first-innings 540.

Rahul Dravid finished unbeaten on 65, but star of the show Sehwag was delighted to make an impact as he tries to regain a permanent spot back in the side.

"It hurt when I was not in the team so I want to get back my place," he said. "I had to prove I belong at this level.

"I had to focus a lot. (Captain) Anil (Kumble) told me I had to take responsibility. I had to play my shots and maintain the run-rate. We did a great job."

Sehwag went into today's fourth morning looking to pass his own Indian record Test score. He had the world record of 400 not out posted by Brian Lara against England in Antigua in April 2004 in his sights.

And, with the Test now seemingly destined to end in a draw, Kumble seemed likely to allow him the time to give it a crack.

Fellow opener Wasim Jaffer hit 73 in a first-wicket stand of 213.


Viru gives an amazing start to India's World Cup campaign:

Virender Sehwag unleashed a stunning display of strokeplay to smash a blistering 175 as India launched their cricket World Cup campaign with an emphatic 87-run victory over Bangladesh.

Sehwag, who defied a hit on the knee, was in a murderous mood as he combined with young Virat Kohli (100 not out) to propel India to an imposing 370/4 before the visitors restricted the minnows 283/9 to avenge the shock defeat in the last edition.


Beware of Sehwag 2.0

To intimidate people, Al Pacino's character in Scarface made them "say hello to my little friend". Somehow six other words from Virender Sehwag, which sound completely non-violent by his standards, are having similar impact in the cricketing world. Cricket's Tony Montana just said, "I want to bat 50 overs." It is a simple thought, something every opening batsman says by rote, but when Sehwag says that it becomes scary. When Sehwag says he wants to bat 50 overs, you shudder when you think what if he actually bats 50 overs?

What if the man - his average innings lasts 32 balls but he has still managed to score more than 7000 runs at a strike-rate over 100 - decides to try and play anything close to 150 deliveries in a match? What if he regularly starts lasting till batting Powerplays? Before today, while batting first, Sehwag had faced 100 balls only on two occasions. What if he starts doing it more often? He has never stayed not out batting first. What if he does that often in completed innings?

Today Sehwag gave a glimpse of the possibilities, and on evidence the bowlers need to be afraid. Very afraid. It was fitting that the new Sehwag came out in the same country where four years ago he was trying to figure out just what his role was as a batsman, when he was a confused man after being dropped from Tests, a format in which he has never merited a drop. That was soon after the World Cup debacle. On that tour he got off to two starts, but threw his wicket away on both occasions. Four years on, now one of the most feared batsmen in Test cricket, Sehwag's intentions of making a larger impact in ODIs too have begun in Bangladesh.

The ease with which Sehwag did it today made it seem like all he had to do was tell himself he needed to bat longer. You could see he was fighting boredom in the middle overs when all that was available was singles. He even went 30 balls without a boundary, considered the oxygen of his batting, but that had little effect on him. You could see from his itching to hit that he still didn't think spinners ought to bowl in international cricket, but he showed restraint when Abdul Razzak came on to bowl in the fifth over. He played out four dots in that over before taking the single. Razzak's time would come later. The first time Sehwag tried to clear the infield today was in the 15th over, a six over cow corner to reach his fifty… off Razzak.

All this after he had got the World Cup off to a smashing start, with a punch through the covers first ball and a drive for four through the same region in the same over. You watched with interest just how he would rein himself in after such a start. How would a batsman who knows no boundaries limit himself? Not that he hasn't done that before. He did so to save the Adelaide Test, but then he had a challenge in front of himself, a larger cause of drawing the Test. He did that during a chase in Dambulla last year, scoring 99 not out when every other batsman failed under the lights, but then the conditions provided that extra challenge.

One-day cricket on flat tracks, like today, doesn't present that kind of multi-faceted challenge. It was the kind of track and bowling where the only man that could have got Sehwag out was Sehwag himself. He wasn't going to do that today, not until he had reached the back-end of the innings. In the middle overs, he fought the boredom with chips over extra cover for twos. He stayed alert to quick singles; on one occasion he ran a bye, and then the overthrow off a ricochet off the stumps when the ball had hardly gone far.

Once he reached that back-end, once he called for the batting Powerplay in the 35th over, every bowler bar Rubel Hossain - who used the bouncer well on a slow pitch - got the clip. Shafiul Islam was swung for six over long-on. Razzak he treated like a club bowler, leaving his crease every ball, and then deciding which boundary to clear. Powerful shots, late-cuts, lofts, all came back.

With the World Cup upon us, so is Sehwag 2.0. If he can continue doing what he did today, more games will be decided by the end of the first innings.


Cricket's modern Zen master

Virender Sehwag, who has just hit yet another fast-forward century in the Test being played against New Zealand in Ahmedabad, is the most interesting cricketer in the world today. He is at once a genius, set apart from his peers by his extraordinary gifts, and a player who embodies the changing history of the game he plays.

Sehwag's success in Test cricket sometimes obscures the fact that he got his start in the one-day game. It's hard to remember that he played more than 20 ODIs before he played his debut Test against South Africa exactly nine years ago, in the first week of November 2001. His international debut was a limited-overs match against Pakistan in early 1999 in which he played as a bits-and-pieces allrounder, as someone who bowled offspin and batted at No. 7. A year and a half later, a century against the Sri Lankans and a couple of undefeated fifties against South Africa got him a place in the Bloemfontein Test, where he declared himself by making a century.

The relevance of his early one-day career is that Sehwag was the first of a new breed of batsmen who won their Test match spurs by first getting a break in limited-overs cricket. Cricketers like Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina have made us take this one-day route to the top for granted, but in retrospect, Sehwag is a pioneer. Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman caught the public eye in what was then the conventional way, as Test players; alone amongst the golden greats of Indian batsmen, Sehwag entered Test cricket through what was then the side door.

In a curious way, then, this Kohinoor of Test batsmanship, is a symptom of the decline of Test cricket as the premier form of the game. In Indian cricket, certainly, the era of Sehwag is one in which the cricketing public, corporate sponsors and the game's administrators have lined up decisively behind limited-overs cricket, first in its 50-over form and then in its parodic version, the Twenty20 format. And since Sehwag first appears so neatly at the end of the 20th century, it allows middle-aged doomsayers to see the first decade of the new millennium as Test cricket's terminal twilight.

But this is a celebration of Sehwag as a Test batsman, not a dirge for Test cricket, so it's important to say here that by a wonderful irony Sehwag used the gifts that should have made him an ODI natural to become instead the greatest opening batsman in the history of post-helmet Test cricket.

Up to a point, Sehwag's career as a Test batsman can be explained in terms of cricket's evolving history. The protective gear that came into the game in the late seventies, making the batsman well-nigh invulnerable; the better bats; the habit of scoring quickly, inculcated by the limited-overs game; the restrictions upon bouncers, all helped to create more attacking batsmen, and by the nineties the tempo of Test batsmanship had been decisively sped up.

The great Australian teams of the nineties came close to making the Test match draw extinct by routinely scoring at nearly four runs an over. Tendulkar responded to the challenge of this hectic decade by joining the solidity of Sunil Gavaskar to the intent of Viv Richards and thus creating a monster technique that was to eventually inspire our provincial hero in Najafgarh.

But this is as far as historical context takes us. Sehwag, like all truly great players, has to be set in the evolving context of the game to be understood, but more than the others, more certainly than Tendulkar, whose talent is essentially rational, his success resists history's incremental explanations.

Take for example the glib suggestion offered above, that Sehwag successfully transplanted the lessons of one-day cricket into the longer game. The first roadblock this thesis runs into is that Sehwag is a great Test batsman but no more than a decent ODI player. In his own practice, then, his methods work better in the long form of the game than in the format that allegedly shaped them.

The inadequacy of this explanation becomes more apparent when you try to compare him with another child of limited-overs cricket, Yuvraj Singh. Here's a player who, after years of striving to find a place in the middle order of India's Test line-up, has been discarded by the selectors. Superficially Sehwag and Yuvraj have one-day traits in common: a suspected weakness against the short ball, a lack of footwork, a tendency to stand and deliver. These traits produce the kind of Test match performances you would expect in Yuvraj's case: the odd century on flat tracks but failure more often than not. With Sehwag, though, these departures from batting orthodoxy have delivered a Test match average nudging 54, at the absurd, unprecedented strike-rate of 82. The only other contemporary batsman with an average and strike rate who comes close is Adam Gilchrist, and he batted at No. 7, at the tail-end of a frightening batting line-up, not first up against the new ball.

So why doesn't Sehwag fail more often? Every bowling attack in cricket declares that it has "plans" for Sehwag, and more often than not these plans consist of bouncing balls into his ribs to tuck him up. In the recent two-match "series" against Australia, his alleged vulnerability against the short ball was exploited by journeymen quicks with some success. Why hasn't this been done more frequently by the better, faster bowling sides he has faced throughout his career?

I don't know, but that doesn't stop me from guessing. Sehwag doesn't generally pull or hook the ball. His technique with the short ball consists either of evasion or, more riskily, the upper-cut over slip or gully when he's feeling adventurous. More often than not he lets the ball go: he might look awkward while doing so, but he's unlikely to be forced into the desperate cross-bat shot a la Yuvraj. If there were several fast bowlers like Glenn McGrath, bowlers who could make the ball rear from just short of a good length into Sehwag's ribs, over after over, I can see him being worn down and hustled out, but there aren't and consequently he isn't.

Secondly, Sehwag's choice of shots is, within the new definitions of the contemporary game, orthodox. He's a predominantly off-side player whose favourite shots are the cut and, more frequently, the drive. The lofted flayed cut, given the carry of modern bats, is a safe shot and apart from the nudge over slips (which is, in fact, a shot more likely to be played by Tendulkar than Sehwag), you would be hard put to think of low-percentage shots in Sehwag's repertoire. His favourite on-side shot is the bread-and-butter flick through midwicket or square leg. Otherwise his wagon- heels tell the story of a man relentlessly carving up the off side and the straight field with magical hands and a genius for hitting balls angled in to him, inside-out through cover or mid-off. The point here is that, given Sehwag's natural gifts, the repertoire of shots he brings into play is low-risk, even though his strokeplay looks spectacular and gasp-inducing.

But the real reason Sehwag is as good as he is has to do with that old chestnut, temperament. In the course of India's first innings in the Ahmedabad Test, it became apparent that he was playing the ball while Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman were playing their careers. So he scored at a run a ball, while the others, for long sessions in the match, scored a run every six balls. This is sometimes construed as Sehwag being carefree but this is a misreading. I think Sehwag needs and wants success as much as any other player; remember, this is a man who knows what the penalties of failure are. After his first ODI in 1999, he was forgotten for a year, and then again in 2007 he was dropped from the Test team after a poor series against South Africa.

No, the genius of Sehwag lies in his near-yogic ability to live in the moment, to separate one ball from the other, to purge his mind at the moment of impact, of useless meta-information like his innings score or the match score or the state of his average, or his place in the history of cricket. Bowled on 173 in Ahmedabad, he grinned at his runner, Gautam Gambhir, instead of cursing the missed double-century, and walked cheerfully off the field. He didn't know he was within a stroke of a world record when he shared in a 400-run partnership some years ago, because he isn't interested in cricket's historical baggage. The game he's playing is everything and within that game, the ball he's about to face. Our carefree buccaneer, if only we had the eyes to see, is modern cricket's Zen Master.


Virender Sehwag answers your questions

India's Virender Sehwag took time out of his schedule this week to answer questions from the ICC's Facebook and Twitter followers.

He spoke on a variety of topics including his approach to batting, his take on batting records and his illustrious teammate Sachin Tendulkar.

Watch out for upcoming Facebook and Twitter chats with other leading players and officials.

Sanesh_P &cricketicc #sehwag who is you toughest opponent played..

Australia. They don't give too many loose balls to score runs, so you have to work hard against Australia. If you score runs against Australia then everybody will appreciate your performance and give you a lot of respect.

AnikSachdeva @cricketicc #sehwag What is Your strategy while batting in a test match?

My strategy is simple, that is to try and bat as long as I can and try to hit a loose ball.

imtryam @cricketicc we are still waiting for your Double century in ODIs,… when it gonna be possible…? #sehwag

I think a lot of batsmen are trying to score a double hundred in one-day cricket and I am one of them. So hopefully someone will get a double hundred in one-day cricket. Anyways, we cannot predict when we will score a hundred or double hundred in any game.

Mahesh Thammanaveni: when will you break the Lara's 400 records in tests?

It is very difficult to score 400, let alone a hundred in Test cricket. So it's a big achievement if I can break his record, but it's very tough.

Chris Anderson: how do you prepare yourself for a big match? Like the final of worldcup or like starting a fresh day's play on 90 or 190 or 290 not out?

I try to relax and try to calm myself and try not to think about the game. I try not to think about my performance, just enjoy my evening. I sleep well for eight hours a day before the game. The lesser you think about the game, a bigger chance to score runs in that game.

Shibu Kunnakkad: lot of people talking abt finding gap in the cricket there are conventional fielding finding gap is by practice or by luck?

Shibu Kunnakkad: lot of people talking abt finding gap in the field. In cricket there are conventional fielding positions, so finding gap is by practice or by luck?

Ashwini Kumar Sharma: Which is your best shot according to you? And also best shot of Sachin for you?

According to me my best shot is my square cut and according to me, Sachin's best shot is straight drive.

Rajaram Dilipkumar: Shewag without a doubt you are one of the most destructive batsman in world cricket ever. My question – Dont you think the bowling standards have come down, as we dont have greats like wasim,curtly,donald,warne.mcgrath.kumble operating right now ? In that case dont you think run making is a lot easier right now than when you entered international cricket?

I don't think so. If you look at the bowling attack of every country have two or three good bowlers. So it is still difficult to score runs in Test cricket.

Anirudh Vyas: How did you develope fearless nature in yourself. . .

You can't develop your nature, it comes naturally. You just go out and build on it.


David Warner attributes his improved first-class form to Virender Sehwag

The Australia batsman, David Warner revealed on Saturday, that it was swashbuckling India opener, Virender Sehwag, his skipper at Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League, who told him that he could be a good player in the longer format of the game rather than a Twenty20 player.

"He [Sehwag] told me two years ago he saw me as a better four-day player than Twenty20 player,'' said Warner while talking to a leading Australian sports journal.

He said, 'If you play with your freedom, and your shot selection is correct and your decision-making's good, you're always going to score runs in that form of the game if conditions favour you," he added further.

The 24-year-old New South Wales cricketer was considered to be a good limited-overs player. After debuting in the limited overs format of international cricket in January 2009, Warner had played only four first-class matches for his state with a highest score of only 48 runs.

He scored his maiden first-class century against Western Australia earlier this year, soon after missing out on a ton against Victoria, where he was sacked at 99.

The right-handed opening batsman's effort got Cricket Australia selectors nod as he got a call up to the Australia-A squad for a four-day series.

Warner has played seven One Day Internationals and 25 Twenty20 Internationals for Australia and is yet to debut in the Test format. He said that he was happy to be acknowledged for the last couple of games he played for New South Wales in the 2010-11 Sheffield Shield tournaments.

It's recognition for me that they're actually looking at me as a Test player," said the right hander. "I can last the distance, and mentally I can be patient enough to tackle that format of the game. It's good I scored runs and showed some people," he added further.

National selector, Greg Chappell, has also expressed confidence in Warner as a Test player and hoped he can improve his game in the longest format of cricket.

Warner's New South Wales skipper, Stuart Clarke, also believes the batsman has the potential to remove the tag of a short-format specialist by proving himself in the first-class cricket.


Sehwag backs Warner in longer forms

David Warner has revealed that Indian opener Virender Sehwag helped give him the confidence to really push on in first-class cricket.

Despite having turned out for Australia in ODIs and T20 Internationals, Warner has limited domestic four-day experience, having made his international bow before playing a first-class match.

When he did eventually turn out for New South Wales, it was not all smooth sailing, but the explosive opener made an important breakthrough earlier in the year when he recorded his maiden first-class ton against Western Australia, having made 99 in the previous game against Victoria.

The 24-year-old admitted that words of encouragement from Sehwag aided him.

"He [Sehwag] told me two years ago he saw me as a better four-day player than Twenty20 player,'' Warner told the Sydney Morning Herald.

He said, 'If you play with your freedom, and your shot selection is correct and your decision-making's good, you're always going to score runs in that form of the game if conditions favour you.

Warner has been rewarded for his improved form with a spot in the Australia A squad to tour Zimbabwe in June.

"I'm happy to be acknowledged for the last couple of games I played in the Shield season. It's recognition for me that they're actually looking at me as a Test player. I can last the distance, and mentally I can be patient enough to tackle that format of the game. It's good I scored runs and showed some people. Everyone is about stats and numbers, and if you don't prove it you're never going to be that. It's good I can face 80 balls for 60 or 70 and not just try and score 100 off 50 balls," he explained.

It's not only Sehwag who has shown faith in Warner, with New South Wales stalwart Stuart Clark backing the opener too.

"He's got a reputation of being a Twenty20 player only because he's so good at the game," said Clark.

"David, whatever he chooses to do, need to find a way to break that perception, that's his biggest challenge. If he gets runs, people are unfortunately going to keep remembering him as a Twenty20 player.

"Perception is reality with David. If he does things to benefit his four-day cricket, he can change that perception very quickly. There's no doubt that he can play the game."


Sehwag unleashes the beast within

It has taken him five matches but Virender Sehwag finally came up with his first potentially 'game-defining' knock in IPL 4 against Kings XI Punjab.

It has taken him five matches but Virender Sehwag finally came up with his first potentially 'game-defining' knock in IPL 4. The Delhi Daredevils skipper was simply devastating during his hurricane 35-ball 77 on the green Kotla track to stamp his authority in front of the packed Saturday-night crowd.

Fireworks went on in tandem as David Warner and Sehwag put on a murderous show to take apart the Kings XI Punjab attack. Sehwag began tentatively with Praveen Kumar troubling him with late movement off the seam and Ryan Harris generating extra bounce from the new-look surface.

Warner, however, simply loved the wayward stuff on offer as Sehwag was more than happy to take the back seat. Even though Sehwag was yet to hit top gear, he still strolled to a fifty off 28 balls studded with eight fours but surprisingly without a single one beyond the boundary.

That statistic was rectified immediately after reaching the 50-run landmark - his first in IPL 4 - as Shalabh Srivastava was pulled over square-leg for the first six. The introduction of David Hussey unleashed the beast in Sehwag.

The first ball was smashed over long-on for six, the second bore the same result but over mid-wicket while a juicy full-toss went exactly to the same spot – just a few more rows back. Delhi was already starting to visualize Yuvraj Singh's six sixes and so was Sehwag. The fourth attempted six went only as far as deep mid-wicket. In just 55 minutes of mayhem, the Sehwag-Warner pair proved why they are considered the most dangerous opening combination in IPL putting on 146 runs in 70 balls.

Sehwag could have strolled to a century with 50 balls still remaining in the innings when he was dismissed, but then the Nawab of Najafgarh has never been one for the records. He has always lived by the sword and died by it!

One is a team on a roll; the other is already struggling to avoid the wooden-spooner tag in this IPL. After the auctions, both Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils were looked at as 'potentially weak on paper'. What each franchise lacked were lots of active big name international stars and what they needed was for the local Indian buys to step up. Punjab have done that beautifully - Delhi have not. And so far in the IPL, that is the reason why one finds itself near the top of the table and one finds itself at the bottom.

Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist may not be as flamboyant a leader of men as Shane Warne, but there is little doubt that he is just as effective as his team-mate of many years. He came into the IPL without much batting, having had an average IPL-3, and given new challenge with a new team, led them brilliantly. On the way, his own form also seems to have returned. Paul Valthaty has of course been the find of the IPL and there is little chance of anyone upstaging his performances even if he [Valthaty] has only middling results from now. Punjab has now got two of the key departments of T20 cricket covered - the opening pair in batting and bowling. Gilchrist and Valthaty are as power-packed as they come and Praveen Kumar has been outstanding in most of his opening spells. To top that, Shaun Marsh came spectacularly back to form against Rajasthan and that has given Punjab's top order a very solid look. If a spot can be found for David Hussey, then the batting will be even more strong, though that would come at the expense of Ryan McLaren and weaken the bowling somewhat.

Delhi Daredevils: Delhi's squad looks unbalanced at first sight with the most glaring being the lack of any quality spinner in the ranks. The only one who has some claim to fame is Roelof van der Merwe, and he hasn't been very impressive. Local boy S Nadeem has been better in the matches he has got, but the rest of Delhi's bowlers are all pacemen. And Morne Morkel apart, none of the other pacemen has the class or speed to give too many worries to international batsmen. The inclusion of James Hopes in the playing eleven has made a difference though with Delhi appearing much more balanced. Given their lack of bowling fire-power, Delhi's plans inevitably will revolve around their batting. The combination of Virender Sehwag and David Warner is enough to give bowlers nightmares, but they both need to build a huge stand and actually translate those nightmares into reality. Warner has had a couple of good outings with the bat, but Sehwag has not delivered the single-handed game-changing performance he is capable of. Delhi's bowlers will have to rely on discipline with Morkel being given the license to attack.

Watch out for Irfan Pathan: He will be playing against his old franchise and might want to look at Chris Gayle for inspiration on how to play against one's old side! That said, Irfan's performance so far in the IPL have been very under-whelming. He has battled injury in the past and is on a come-back trail but if he wants to realise his ultimate ambition of donning Indian colours again, he needs the performances to back his case - not to speak of the enormous amount of money Delhi have spent in procuring his services.

Head to Head The Kings XI Punjab enjoy a good record against the Delhi Daredevils having won four out of six matches that the two sides have played.


J K Cement signs on Ace Cricketer Virender Sehwag as its Brand Ambassador

Sehwag is acknowledged as one of the best cricketers both in India and overseas as he has been instrumental in keeping the Indian team atthe pinnacle of world cricket.

Close on the heels of launching new initiatives to rejuvenatethe brand, J.K. Cement Ltd., one of India's premier manufacturers of cement hasfor the first time taken on board a brand ambassador to endorse its variousproducts. Ace Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag will be the new face of J.K.Cement. J.K. Cement Ltd. has been consistently growing and has carved adistinctive niche for itself in the Indian cement industry for over threedecades.

Speaking on the association Nitish Chopra, Brand Manager, J.K.Cement Ltd. remarked, "We are proud to have Virender Sehwag on board for ourbrand. Undoubtedly, Sehwag is acknowledged as one of the best cricketers both in India and overseas as he has been instrumental in keeping the Indian team atthe pinnacle of world cricket. Sehwag's association will help to differentiatethe brand and further reinforce the key brand virtues that J.K. Cement standsfor. His is a name associated with trust and dependence, just as J.K. Cement isknown to be a pioneer in its own right, providing consumers with quality thatmatches with international standards, compelling the nation to believe: Vishwashai, isme kuch khaas hai."

On his part, Sehwag commented, "I am happy to be associatedwith a Company and a Brand that puts a high premium on quality and performance.I wish them a long and productive innings in the marketplace."

Today, the construction industry is poised for huge growth withincreasing consumer knowledge and demand for world-class cement. J.K. Cement isgearing up to face this intensely competitive space with multi-facetedmarketing initiatives including consumer promotions, online support and publicrelations to endorse the various products offered by the Company.


Sehwag is Test Cricketer of the Year

Virender Sehwag, the India opener, has been named the Test Player of the Year during the 2010 ICC Awards ceremony in Bangalore. He won the award, the first of his career, ahead of Sachin Tendulkar, Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla, who were the other nominees in the category.

"It's fantastic to win the award, to take over the title from Gautam Gambhir," Sehwag said after receiving the prize from Courtney Walsh. "I think I got motivated when Gambhir got this award last time, I was discussing with him that I hope I get it this time and I got it. I'm a huge fan of Test cricket and I love to play it more than Twenty20 or one-day cricket.

"When I was growing up, I was playing lot of 10-over, 12-over games, so I had to score off every ball, same thing I have continued. I followed my instincts and played in the same way in T20, ODI and Tests. It's a great strength to have."

Sehwag scored 1282 runs in ten Tests at an average of 85.46 between August 2009 and 2010, which was the period under consideration for the award. He was also named in the Test Team of the Year, which was captained by MS Dhoni.


Sehwag soars solo again

Paul the Octopus' spot-on predictions during the football World Cup were a cinch compared to the challenge of foreseeing results during the tri-series in Sri Lanka, where the inability of batsmen to cope with bowler-friendly conditions has led to wild swings in team fortunes. Only one man has adapted in Dambulla, where 230 is worth 300.

Virender Sehwag had ground out a watchful - by his standards - match-winning 99 against Sri Lanka last week and on Wednesday, against New Zealand, he made a more traditional Sehwagian century to carry India into the final. On a pitch where most of his team-mates struggled to get bat on ball, Sehwag appeared to be playing on a typical run-filled subcontinental one-day track.

This isn't the first time Sehwag has overshadowed his team-mates in a one-day series. In 2002-03, during the tour of New Zealand, when batsmen from neither side could make runs, Sehwag scored two centuries on his way to 299 runs in the series. The next highest tally for an Indian was 134. This time in Dambulla, the numbers are: Sehwag 240, next highest Indian 73.

When asked what would have happened had he not performed today, Sehwag was typically blunt: "[We would be] catching tomorrow's flight." Did he play more responsibly since the others were struggling? "Since I was in form, I thought I will score more than the others. If I take more strike, then there is a smaller chance of others getting out."

Sehwag played the first few overs cautiously, and it wasn't until the fifth that he opened out, smashing three consecutive boundaries off Kyle Mills. After that, he was collecting fours all around even while he was losing partners. When Yuvraj miscued a pull to the wicketkeeper, India were 61 for 3, with Sehwag having raced to 43 off 33.

"The wicket was behaving better today than it did in the other matches and I knew in the first couple of overs that if I applied myself and batted cautiously, then it will be a good track to bat on," he said. "So the first few overs, I was just watching how the wicket was behaving and after that I started playing my shots. I knew once I start playing my shots, the bowlers will be on the back foot and they will give me more loose balls."

Sehwag was tested by the short ball aimed at the body, especially by Tim Southee and Andy McKay, but he dealt with those deliveries by bending backwards to make room and then steered the ball towards third man or backward point. It was riveting stuff, though a bunch of school kids, who had been brought in to ensure the ground wasn't empty, didn't think so. They were content to play a game of tennis-ball cricket among themselves while Sehwag was crafting a masterclass.

New Zealand's task of containing Sehwag was made harder by their long injury list. With Jacob Oram and Daryl Tuffey out of action, they were a bowler short. At 69 for 4, with MS Dhoni and Sehwag at the crease, one more wicket would have turned the match completely in their favour. Instead, their fourth bowler was Scott Styris, who was taken for 14 runs in his first over by Sehwag. The Sehwag-Dhoni combination went on to notch up India's first century partnership of the tournament, and by the time Sehwag got his hundred - with a calm nudge towards cover for a single - India were taking charge.

By then, Sehwag's back started to give him trouble and, after two delicately steered fours of Mills, he holed out to deep midwicket. "I felt a little bit of pain in my back [after the hundred], so I asked the umpire if I can call the physio," he said. "The umpire asked if I can wait for another over since the drinks break was due. I tried to bat on for another over, but got out."

India were 173 for 5 when a disappointed Sehwag exited. "Had I batted for another 10 overs, we could have easily crossed 250, which would have been a safe target." He needn't have worried, though, because New Zealand's batting faded under lights.

Sehwag has troubled New Zealand right through his one-day career. From his brutal maiden century in 2001, which also knocked New Zealand out of a tri-series final in Sri Lanka, to the carnage in Hamilton last year, when he hammered the fastest one-day hundred by an Indian. Today's solo will rank up there with his one-man efforts in 2002-03 as among his finest efforts against his favourite opposition.


The three S's of Sehwag

Once again the irrepressible Virender Sehwag has made a valuable contribution to an Indian Test victory, this time a series-tying win over Sri Lanka.

S is for Sehwag and also for scintillating strokeplay, the perfect description for how he goes about his business. However, you can add another S - for smart. The crucial factor in Sehwag being a smart cricketer is the fact that he's always been his own man as a batsman. Many people talk about his lack of footwork and other supposed flaws in his technique, but Sehwag just shrugs and smiles, as if to say, "Just watch me bat next time."

In this regard he reminds me of my former team-mate Doug Walters. Walters was a match-winner and an extremely aggressive batsman but he resided in the middle order. Many people harped on his crooked back-lift and how this stopped him reaching his full potential.

During a day of golf in Brisbane, after Walters had made a century in a Test match, former England fast bowler Frank "Typhoon" Tyson came up to him. "Doug, your technique is a disgrace," he began in provocative fashion. "If I was bowling, I'd give you a couple of bouncers and then an offcutter which would go right between your bat and pad."

Walters took a sip of his beer, looked at the retired fast bowler and replied: "That's not a problem, Typhoon. I won't have to face you in this series."

Judging by Sehwag's highly entertaining press conference earlier this year, where he bluntly stated: "Bangladesh are an ordinary side. They can't beat India because they can't take 20 wickets," it's not just his approach to batting that he has in common with Walters. Sehwag is a breath of fresh air, both on and off the field. He plays with gay abandon and speaks with refreshing honesty.

To bat as fearlessly as him, you need to have great confidence in your ability, and the self-belief that you're better than any bowler, any attack. His comments were not arrogance; rather, an honest reflection of the way he sizes up an attack.

Favell never encountered a prolonged slump; to play in that manner you have to believe the next boundary will have you back in prime form. Sehwag's Test career follows a similar pattern. The nearest he's come to a prolonged poor patch was prior to the 2007-08 tour of Australia, when he was really struggling, even at the first-class level, and some were ready to write him off. He has satisfactorily answered those critics and since returning to the Indian side he's been far and away their best batsman.

Excluding matches against Bangladesh, he has scored more runs and more centuries than anyone else, and at a higher average than all but Gautam Gambhir (among those who have scored over 250 runs in this period). However, when it comes to run-rate, he leaves them all in his slipstream; astonishingly, he's more than two runs an over quicker than all the others.

Whichever way you look at it, Sehwag has either had the misfortune or the good luck to play in the same side as Sachin Tendulkar. It either deprives him of publicity or allows him to float along in the background, almost unimpeded.

Sehwag has had an exceptional career. He's been the most dangerous batsman in world cricket for a long time. He's done it by adhering to another S: keeping it simple to be successful.


Sehwag named Wisden's Leading Cricketer

The Leading Cricketer in the World was instituted in Wisden 2004. The six previous winners have been Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Andrew Flintoff, Muttiah Muralitharan, Jacques Kallis and Virender Sehwag. Players can be chosen more than once for this award.

Several strong candidates advanced their case to be the Leading Cricketer in the World in 2009. None, however, made such an impact as to displace the incumbent, Virender Sehwag, India's 31-year-old opening batsman, who extended the sport's traditional boundaries further still. He scored more quickly than any specialist batsman in Tests or one-day internationals. Last year he broke Test cricket's sound barrier by scoring at more than a run a ball. Australia's former captain Ian Chappell, in as good a position to judge as anybody alive, directly compared Sehwag to Sir Donald Bradman: they have the fastest scoring-rate among players of their generation, and are the only men to have exceeded 290 three times in Tests. Chappell called Sehwag "the greatest destroyer since the U-boat", and dismissed the accusation that he prospered only in home conditions by pointing out that he averaged almost 50 abroad.

Sehwag raised the bar even higher than in 2008, when he had scored at strike-rate of 85 runs per 100 balls in Tests, and 120 in one-day internationals.

In 2009 he did not play so much, after injuring his right shoulder during the second IPL, and for much of the year the giant rested. It was no coincidence that, in his absence, India were knocked out in the early stages of both the World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy. He still played in all of India's Test matches in 2009 - a three-Test series in New Zealand and another at home to Sri Lanka - and, in steering them to No. 1 in the Test rankings for the first time, Sehwag averaged 70, with a strike-rate of 108.9.

Adam Gilchrist had set a new standard with his strike-rate of 81.9 while averaging 47 in Tests, but he did so almost entirely from the relative comfort of No. 7 in one of the greatest Test teams of all. Sehwag has taken on the opposition from the first ball of India's innings, shredding their confidence with his strokeplay, demoralising them as no Test batsman has done since Bradman, who scored at 61.2 per 100 balls. In one-day internationals in 2009 Sehwag had a strike-rate of 136.5 - again, far higher than any batsman of substance has achieved over a lengthy period - while averaging 45.

"The feat of the year", as Chappell called it, came when Test cricket returned to the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai last December. Sri Lanka scored 366 for eight on the opening day as they attempted, in the last match of the series, to overturn India's 1-0 lead. Next morning they continued to 393 all out; 79 overs remained in the day. Few would have thought of winning the game from this position, rather than settling for a draw. Sehwag did. By the close of the second day he had scored 284 not out from 239 balls with 40 fours and seven sixes - and Sri Lanka are Asia's best fielding side.

By dispiriting bowlers Sehwag has made batting so much easier for team-mates. Rangana Herath made a fine comeback last year as Sri Lanka's left-arm spinner, yet, when he came on to bowl, Sehwag went down the pitch to drive his second ball for six. Herath's fellow spinner was Muttiah Muralitharan, his captain Kumar Sangakkara - a candidate himself to be the Leading Cricketer in the World. But Sehwag still surged to the second-fastest Test double-hundred ever recorded, from only 168 balls. Those of us who saw the fastest - Nathan Astle's from 153 balls against England - would vouch that Christchurch's drop-in pitch played as flawlessly as an artificial one.

Sehwag, not surprisingly, could not continue in the same vein next morning and was dismissed for 293 from 254 balls. But by then India had taken a first innings lead, and Sehwag had given his team so much time that even though Sri Lanka made more than 300 in their second innings as well, India won by an innings early on the fifth day, and took the series 2-0 to claim top spot.

While Sehwag was batting at the Brabourne, South Africa and England were preparing for a one-day international in Durban, and a television in Kingsmead's pavilion was switched on silently while the captains did their press conferences. Both Graeme Smith and Andrew Strauss kept looking at the distant screen to watch Sehwag. One definition of genius is doing what nobody else can: and in 2009 Sehwag batted like nobody else has ever done for any length of time. Sehwag learned to bat on a driveway of smooth concrete beside his house on the outskirts of Delhi, with a younger brother and neighbours to bowl taped tennis balls quickly. If he had an identical twin, who batted at the same rate as Viru in 2009, India would score 600 in a day of 90 overs. Test cricket has been threatened by the greater excitement that is perceived in 50-over and 20-over cricket; it will not be if more batsmen emulate Sehwag, as he pushes back the parameters and scores at the same rate in Tests as others do in Twenty20.

Strauss was nominated by several correspondents who were consulted about this award. Besides leading England's improvement in Test cricket to regain the Ashes, and squaring the four-Test series in South Africa, he also resurrected England's 50-over cricket. But England under Strauss lost a Test series in the West Indies, which none of the main Test-playing countries had done for six years, although allowance has to be made for the fact that the captain had no say in his squad's selection after his hurried appointment; and, in one-day cricket, England were hammered 7-1 by Australia during the year.

Tillakaratne Dilshan was the other main nominee. His case rests more on limited-overs than on Test cricket: if we deduct the Chittagong Test, in which he scored two hundreds, he averaged 52.80 last year, and did not make the Wisden Test XI as he gained only one of the three selectors' votes. Superb in his hand-eye co-ordination, Dilshan came ever closer to Sehwag in his approach as he was promoted to open the batting for Sri Lanka in all three formats, without ever surpassing the trendsetter. He scored more runs in Twenty20 internationals than anybody else last year (471), although none inthe World Twenty20 final at Lord's. He can be credited with popularising the scoop on bended knee over the shoulder, but not its invention.

Sehwag has to be first on the team-sheet to represent the World, whatever the game's format. He would take on the Martians, however hostile and alien their attack, disrupting their lines and wavelengths; and, if he succeeded, as he normally does, he would make life so much easier for those who followed.


Sehwag reaches No.1 in Test rankings

Virender Sehwag, the Indian opener, has taken the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings after hitting successive centuries against South Africa. With a rapid 165 in the Kolkata Test, which India won to stay top of the ICC rankings for teams, and 109 in Nagpur before that, Sehwag has displaced good friend and fellow Test opener Gautam Gambhir.

Sehwag sits top of the pile with 863 points, while Gambhir has dropped to fifth position with 824. He had tremendous success in 2009 - an average of 108.98 in six Tests - and in the four Tests he has played this year, Sehwag already has two centuries. He was also the recipient of the prize for best Test innings, for the second year running, for the ESPNcricinfo Awards where his audacious 293 against Sri Lanka in Mumbai was chosen over four other nominations shortlisted for the award.

South Africa's Hashim Amla, whose three centuries in three innings against India earned him two Man-of-the-Match awards and the Man-of-the-Series accolade, has leapfrogged to second place in the rankings with 842 points.

Sachin Tendulkar, who also scored two centuries in the two-Test series with South Africa, occupies sixth place with 805 points.

In the ICC's ranking for one-day internationals, India's captain MS Dhoni has moved back to No. 1, displacing Michael Hussey with whom he has shared a tussle for the top spot. Hussey scored 23 in his last innings and thus fell below Dhoni who has a chance to stay on top for longer with three ODIs lined up against South Africa. Ricky Ponting has jumped four places to occupy fourth place.

The other big mover is Doug Bollinger, who has gained 25 places and has broken into the top 20 for the first time in his career. Bollinger took 11 wickets in the five-ODI series against West Indies to help Australia to a 4-0 victory. He now sits in 18th position in the latest rankings, not far behind Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis.


The new Bradman

In a calendar year where there were many fine feats and admirable achievements, Virender Sehwag's remarkable performance in scoring 284 off 79 overs in a Test match day stands out like a peaceful protest. The way he mercilessly flayed the Sri Lankan attack at the Brabourne Stadium is further proof that he's the greatest destroyer since the U-boat.

In an era where over rates are slowing perceptibly, he's scoring quicker than ever. At a time when batsmen like Sanath Jayasuriya and Jonathan Trott enact more rituals than a religious cult, Sehwag just faces up, taps his bat a couple of times and proceeds to lash the ball to all parts. Where other batsmen rely on visualising techniques, he prefers the tried and tested method of "see the ball, hit the ball".

Sehwag has often said he doesn't think too much when he's batting. A wise man. After years of speculation about what, apart from his enormous skill, made Sir Donald Bradman so great, I've come to the conclusion that a crucial attribute was his ability to bat with an uncluttered mind. That's not all Sehwag has in common with Bradman. They are the only batsmen to surpass 290 three times in Test cricket. They also comfortably have the best strike rate among the high scorers of their generation. This leads to an interesting thought on batsmanship: should greater consideration be given to stroke production rather than technique in moulding young batsmen? After all, efficient run-scoring is not just a statistical exercise, it's the first rung on the climb to victory.

To add further weight to that argument: despite Sehwag's carefree approach, it's amazing how many of his notable achievements surpass those of opening batsmen renowned for their technique. As an opener, Sehwag has a higher average than Sunil Gavaskar. And 75% of Sehwag's centuries exceed 150, while Sir Leonard Hutton only achieved that landmark around 50% of the time. This is even more remarkable when you realise there was a time during John Wright's term as Indian coach that Sehwag was criticised for throwing his wicket away once he had got a start. I asked what his response was when the coach eventually felt the need to admonish Sehwag and Wright said: "Viru just shrugged his shoulders as if to say, 'Watch my next innings'".

There can be no argument that Bradman had the better technique, which speaks volumes for Sehwag standing by the conviction he revealed to Wright in his early days. This is an area where a coach can't help a young player; he's either born with Sehwag's confidence in his own ability or he's like the bulk of international batsmen and has moments of doubt. When comparing Sehwag to his own generation, it's the strike-rate column that shows his true worth to the team.

He exceeds such renowned new-ball clatterers as Matthew Hayden and Chris Gayle by more than 20 runs per 100 balls. Incredibly, he is 16 runs per 100 balls ahead of the eternally belligerent Jayasuriya. To score at 81 runs per 100 balls while opening the batting in Test cricket is quite remarkable, even in an era where the standard of fast bowling is a little down on the previous decade.

There's another amazing aspect to Sehwag's Test-match success. In Twenty20 cricket there are a number of openers who are within a faint edge of Sehwag's strike-rate. This suggests there are openers who can score quickly for a short period but that only Sehwag can prolong a hectic run-rate throughout a long innings, highlighting his amazing confidence in his own ability and the incredible strength of his uncluttered mind.

To those who attribute much of Sehwag's success to scoring heavily on flat Indian pitches, there's evidence to the contrary. He averages 50.48 away from India as an opener and has scored seven of his 16 hundreds on foreign soil. His 195 at the MCG in 2003-04 is one of the finest examples of an opener taking on the opposing bowlers on the opening day with gusto and audacious strokeplay.

Nevertheless, even that tearaway Sehwag innings pales into insignificance when compared with his outstanding achievement of 2009 at the Brabourne Stadium. May he play more innings like it in 2010, and hopefully everybody reading this column has a happy and healthy year.


'My best knock' - Sehwag

Virender Sehwag is arguably the only player in the world who will score a 102-ball 142 and then put his money on the opposition for superstitious reasons. Yet even there he was a winner - at the end of a day on which 825 runs were scored, his knock propelled India to an ultimately unreachable score and he later said it was his best ODI innings.

"It is my best knock, better than the 130 I made earlier [against New Zealand in 2003]," said Sehwag, who had scant sympathy for the bowlers, most of whom had their averages ruined. "One-day cricket is a batsman's game. It was a very good one-day wicket. Yet Ashish Nehra bowled 28 to 30 yorkers in his last five overs and Zaheer also bowled a lot of yorkers. That helped us win in the end."

Batting first on a belter can be fraught with the danger of under-achieving and Sehwag acknowledged that the goal-posts kept shifting during India's innings. "When Tendulkar and I were batting we thought we could reach 350 as the wicket was that good," he said. "But then when I and MS Dhoni got together to raise the 300 in the 32nd over, we felt we could get 400."

The batting Powerplays proved to be crucial as both India and Sri Lanka lost wickets that robbed their respective innings of momentum. Sehwag singled out the dismissals of the rampant Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan during the restrictions as the key moment in the match. "When they were batting so well it looked like we might lose the match," he said. "Their dismissals turned the match in our favour."

India's win was almost undone by some sloppy fielding - they dropped easy catches and gave away several runs in the outfield - but Sehwag chose to dwell on the manner in which the standards improved towards the end of the match. "We have dropped a lot of catches in the T20 and also dropped a few here," he said. "But later we realised that we need to focus on fielding well. We effected run-outs and fielded very well which contributed a lot to the victory."


A different Pitch


Cricket Made Me VIRU

Virender Sehwag is fit and raring to join Team India in England. The swashbuckling all-rounder is the only batsmen in the world to score two triple centuries and take five wickets in an innings. He also holds the record for scoring the fastest 300 (off 200 balls), the fastest 250 (off 207 balls) and the fastest century in ODI (off 60 balls).And along with Sachin Tendulkar, is the only Indian to have smashed six Test double hundreds.

Ask Viru, as he is popularly know, if we will see a repeat soon and he smiles, "God willing!" The Nawab of Najafgarh once owned a vegetarian eatery at Delhi's Fun Republic Cineplex that served a special dish priced at Rs 309, Multan Ke Sultan Ki Tikdi, in memory of his triple century. Shewag's eatery has since shut shop because "the response wasn't good" and Viru is content to savour his mother's 'kadi' and his wife Aarti's 'dal' at home while he plans his cricket academy that will be opening soon in Haryana. "If the response to this academy is encouraging, we will open other branches, maybe one in Mumbai too," says Viru, promising students the best in cricketing skills. "I'll teach them how to hit sixes… And single, double and triple centuries."

Meanwhile, even when away in England, Viru will be connected with friends and fans through voice and chat blogs. In a first of its kind endeavour, TechShot Digital has joined hands with UTV interactive to get Viru chatting on everything from cricket to cinema.These services are available with various telecom operators and Viru is lovin' the idea.

An enthusiastic model, he has just shot for a commercial but points out that he is a natural born actor and he quips, "No way, I'm a born cricketer, I don't know the ABC of acting." He admits that he's been getting a lot of offers for TV reality shows but sighs over the lack of time: "We're playing cricket six-seven months a year, what little time we have to spare, we like to spent with our family."

A favourite time pass is watching movie. He caught Delhi Belly and found it "short and sharp". He insists it was a 90-minute laugh riot and was not even scandalised by its four-letter peppered vocabulary. "You hear youngsters speaking like that everywhere," he reasons. "Aamir Khan is Mr Perfect, he knows how to make a superhit movie." Aamir is a favourite, along with Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Ajay Devgn

But top of the list is undoubtedly Amitabh Bachchan. "I'm looking forward to catching his Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap. It brings back memories of so many of his jubilee hits. Sholay is No. 1." And is he anything like Dharmendra's Viru. He retorts, "It was cricket that made me Viru. Had it not been for cricket, I would have been just Virender or Sehwag all my life. It was my colleagues who gave me the nickname and fans followed up on it. I like being Viru which is why cricket will always be No. 1 in my list of priorities."


Sehwag motivates Team India from sidelines, on Twitter

He may not be in action with the bat on the field but Indian opener Virender Sehwag is making sure that he keeps the team's morale high in England.

Out of the first two Tests against England due to a shoulder injury, Sehwag is motivating his teammates and fans with some inspirational words on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

"Time spent living in fear is like working overtime without pay,No one is better than U,Other than urself;Just Believe,And never be afraid," Sehwag writes on his Twitter page.

After a crushing defeat in the first Test, Team India locks horn with England in the second Test on Friday in Nottingham. Following the loss at Lord's, the Indian team has been widely written off by the cricket experts and critics.

But Sehwag takes a philosophical stand on success and says: "success is a vehicle which moves on a wheel called HARD WORK but the journey is impossible without fuel called SELF CONFIDENCE."

The Indian team is waiting for the flamboyant opener's return as it will not only bolster the side but his presence up in the order will also give it some psychological advantage.


Seasoned Delhi batsman Virender Sehwag says he is working hard to earn a recall to the Indian cricket team and is excited about the prospect of opening with teammate Gautam Gambhir once again. In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Sehwag also mentioned about his desire to continue playing for Indian Premier League team Delhi Daredevils. The Delhi franchise have chosen not to retain any players before the IPL 7 players' auction next month.

"This IPL 7 auction presents a good opportunity to franchises to buy exciting talent like Jacques Kallis and Yuvraj Singh and I hope the Delhi Daredevils team buys me once again," he said in the interview.

"I have had a long Test partnership with Gauti (Gambhir) and the fact that he is also from Delhi also helps our wonderful association. We have handled pressure situations well together and I hope to open with him for India again," Sehwag said. Both Sehwag and Gambhir are currently out of favour with the national selectors.

In the interview, Sehwag even opened up about Indian captain MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan and wished India's young guns well in their career.

"Everybody wants to get into the Indian team and young players like Shikhar are doing really well but I am trying my best to get back into the team, which is what I can do from my side," Sehwag said.

The swashbuckling batsman also admitted that he missed hitting balls out of the ground when batting for India. Sehwag had a poor domestic season where his famous hand-eye co-ordination was missing in most matches.