Is Sehwag the world’s most destructive batsman?
The 30-year-old has been amassing runs with ridiculous ease since his comeback in January last year, setting up several wins.
The world’s fastest triple century against South Africa was followed by a stunning 83 in December that launched the then fourth-highest successful run chase in test cricket after India were set 387 by England.
Recently the ‘Nawab of Najafgarh’ blasted the seventh fastest one-day century against New Zealand — in 60 balls, reaching the mark with a six.
He also emerged as the team’s highest scorer with 299 runs in the five-match series that India won 3-1 for their first ODI series success on New Zealand soil.
“Given his innings in test cricket, triple hundreds, exploits in Twenty20s and, obviously, one-dayers, he continues to defy really what batsmen have been trying to do for ages,” former New Zealand batting great Martin Crowe wrote in a newspaper column.
The Delhi dynamite has been unstoppable since his comeback, a tighter technique and a refreshing new attitude shone through as he racked up 1,462 runs in 14 tests in 2008 at an impressive average of 56.23, including a triple and a double hundred.
He also scored 893 runs from 18 ODIs at just under 50 in 2008 as India emerged as serious contenders in all forms of the game.
It was not just about the runs, but the potency of his innings and the impact he had on matches — reminiscent of West Indian master blaster Sir Vivian Richards or more recently, a young Sachin Tendulkar.
Sehwag’s strike rate is almost 80 in tests, 101.85 in ODIs and 144.80 in Twenty20 — and his last 11 test centuries have been scores of 150 plus. The Indian vice-captain played a key role in India’s test series wins over top-ranked Australia and England at home late last year.
England’s Kevin Pietersen and West Indies captain Chris Gayle are among batsmen in the contemporary game capable of changing the course of a match in a matter of minutes.
But Sehwag has shown better consistency and opening the innings in a batting line-up that is bristling with talent and experience allows him to play his natural game.
Ex-India coach John Wright believes Sehwag has actually made batting look easier.
“Sometimes, he’s playing on the edge of that envelope and you think he’s got to nick one sooner or later, and he just doesn’t,” former New Zealand opener Wright told Hindustan Times newspaper.
“That’s the thrill about watching Sehwag. He has simplified batting.”
PHOTO: India’s Virender Sehwag lines up the ball during the final one-day cricket international against New Zealand in Auckland, March 14, 2009. REUTERS/Nigel Marple