We all remember the time when Sachin Tendulkar would walk in to bat and the bowlers would shudder in fear. He was there to attack them and he would often do it with such venom that the opposition would just stand and applaud. But those were the early years.
Then, Tendulkar started to change. A tennis elbow injury handicapped him and he was forced to change his playing style. And the change was a painful experience for not just for Tendulkar, but all his fans as well. Even now it remains one of the things that almost everyone wonders about: Why can’t Tendulkar play like he used to?
But with Virender Sehwag that question never arose. He has managed to successfully resist change.
“Some players start off as entrepreneurs — very enterprising and then they become bankers at a certain stage. It’s almost like saying, ‘I’ll only invest so much so that I get enough returns and I am not suffering a loss. They become defensive and conservative. Not defensive in the conservative sense but it’s more a ‘Why should I risk more’ approach,” said senior sports writer Ayaz Memon.
“But Sehwag has remained an entrepreneur. He is taking mega risks and reaping mega rewards when it works. Sometimes it doesn’t, but look at the times it has worked — 2 triple centuries, 6 doubles centuries, 11 scores above 150. And 23 centuries in 100 Tests — I think that it is fantastic.”
The trick to Sehwag doing so well is the way he handles pressure.
“I am sure he feels the pressure, but he has devised a way to deal with the pressure. A lot of players like Rahul (Dravid) or Sachin (Tendulkar) get into the zone and nothing can disturb them. But Sehwag, I believe, sings songs while he is batting. For some of the best batsmen in the game and till recently even Sachin Tendulkar — it is a game of one-upmanship. It is an ego battle with the best bowlers of the opposition and more often than not, Sehwag has come out on top. Sehwag isn’t careless or carfree — he is fret free.
“He is a very street smart cricketer and he observes a lot and he has perhaps seen what pressure does to batsmen and he doesn’t want to get bogged down because of it,” Ayaz said.
In fact, it’s quite interesting to see how Sehwag, who started out as a Sachin’s clone, has become an original. The opposition may not like it but India certainly doesn’t mind.