Virender Sehwag, one of India’s most iconic and entertaining batsmen, turns 38 today. The Nawab of Najafgarh, as he is known, changed the way the game was played, by taking the fight to opposition bowlers and piling up runs at an alarming rate.
An out and out match-winner and entertainer, Sehwag is remembered for the sheer nonchalance with which he took on the opposition, leaving bowlers and captains helpless when he was on song.
After his international retirement, Sehwag has made a name for himself with his witty remarks in the commentators’ box and coming up with the most ingenuous birthday wishes on Twitter.
195 vs AUSTRALIA, MELBOURNE, 2003
The 2003-04 Test series that India played Down Under is fondly remembered by Indian fans as an exceptional series where a young Indian team led by Sourav Ganguly took the fight to the Aussies in their own backyard.
Sehwag was phenomenal in that series as he adopted the strategy of attacking the Australian bowlers from the first session and stealing the advantage in India’s favour. In the much-anticipated Boxing Day Test in 2003, he played one of the most memorable knocks ever.
Sehwag scored only 24 off the first 20 overs as a determined Bret Lee hit him on the helmet. He was at his belligerent best, though, as soon as leg-spinner Stuart MacGill was introduced in the attack.
The Delhi batsman took on MacGill by smashing him for a huge six in the very first over. Once in his element, Sehwag dismissed the bowlers to all parts of the ground, scoring boundaries for fun.
He smashed a Katich full-toss for a huge six when he was on 189, and was subsequently dismissed for 195 as he tried to repeat the shot.
Australia would eventually go on to win the match and Sehwag’s knock remains one of the best ever in a losing game.
309 vs PAKISTAN, MULTAN, 2004
12 years ago, against Pakistan in the first Test at Multan, Sehwag became the first Indian batsman to score a triple century in Tests and no other Indian batsman apart from Sehwag himself has been able to achieve this feat yet.
Sehwag was at his imperious best in this innings as he dismissed the Pakistani bowlers to all parts of the ground and scored 309 off just 375 balls. He took the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq to the cleaners as he was at his unstoppable best.
The swashbuckling innings, coupled with a brilliant 194 not out from Tendulkar, helped India post a mammoth first innings total of 675 and eventually inflict a crushing innings defeat on Pakistan. His knock also set the tone for India’s win in the Test series.
319 vs SOUTH AFRICA, CHENNAI, 2008
If achieving the rare achievement of being the only Indian to score a triple century in Tests was not enough, Sehwag repeated his feat four years later against South Africa in the first Test at Chennai.
This time, though, the situation was more challenging as the Proteas had already posted 540 on the board in the first innings. In reply, Sehwag remained undaunted by the match conditions as he unleashed his fury on the South African bowlers.
Sent in to bat late on the second day, Sehwag first played out 21 overs, remaining not out on 52. He let himself loose on the third day, bringing up the fastest triple century in Tests off just 278 balls.
Just when everyone was expecting him to challenge Brian Lara’s record of 400, Sehwag got out for 319. It is the highest score by an Indian batsman in international cricket til date.
201 vs SRI LANKA, GALLE, 2008
One of the most mind-blowing knocks played by Sehwag was the double century against Sri Lanka in the second Test at Galle.
‘Viru’ scored 201 off just 231 balls in an outstanding knock that Rahul Dravid went on to call the ‘best innings’ of Sehwag’s career. The innings was truly exemplary as Sehwag almost single-handedly took India to victory in the second Test.
His innings also unravelled the myth around Sri Lanka’s mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis who ran through the Indian batting line-up with six wickets in the first innings.
While all other batsmen struggled, Sehwag took on Muttiah Muralitharan and Mendis, bringing India’s first innings total to 329.
In a match where no other batsman scored a century and spinners accounted for 24 out of the 40 wickets to fall, Sehwag’s knock was vital as India clinched a 170-run victory and levelled the series 1-1.
293 vs SRI LANKA, MUMBAI, 2009
Sehwag came very close to becoming the first international cricketer to have three triple centuries in Test cricket when he scored 293 against Sri Lanka in the Test at Mumbai in 2009.
It was a swashbuckling knock from the Delhi dasher as he scored 293 off just 254 balls in an innings, decorated with 40 boundaries and 7 sixes.
After the day’s play, Sehwag said that he was not disappointed to have missed out on another triple hundred.
“I am very happy I got 293 runs. I am proud of what I have achieved. Not many people have got two triple centuries and followed that with 293,” he said.
Sehwag’s innings took India’s total to 726 for 9, their highest in Tests, and helped them eventually take a 2-0 lead in the Test series.
219 vs WEST INDIES, INDORE, 2011
After suffering from a period of indifferent form, Sehwag played one of the best innings of his career late in 2011 when he became just the second player in ODI cricket history – after Sachin Tendulkar – to notch up a double century.
Batting first at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore in the fourth ODI, Sehwag got off to a lightening start to punish some poor bowling from the visitors. The impressive knock took the West Indies bowlers by surprise as he brought up his double hundred in the 44th over.
Sehwag’s change of gears was special – from 50 off 41 balls, to 100 off 69 balls, to 150 off 112 and 200 off 140. His 219 off 149 balls took the Indian total to a commanding 418 for 5 from 50 overs. A win by a big margin in the match also helped India wrap up the series.
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