Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar are chalk and cheese.
One all instinct and impulse and the other all class and grace; one loaded with in-your-face aggression, the other concealing his in subtlety; one with a wild, irrepressible streak, the other always the gentle giant; one the cricket’s version of a whirlwind on a peaceful day, the other a known ever-present threat; one robust prose when in flow, the other flowing poetry.
But if ever there was anyone to break Sachin’s milestone in One-Day cricket, it had to be Sehwag. Because they share so much in common. Both love to dominate bowling attacks; both are creative as batsmen; both are gifted with incredible talent; and both have a secret source of destructive energy.
Sehwag’s 200 was always in the coming. But by his own brilliant standards, it was late by several years. We will never know why. Like we never know why Sachin is still stuck at 99 centuries. Cricket is a funny game, they say. Not without reason, one must admit.
Scoring a 200 is no child’s play in any format of the game. It’s particularly so in the One-Dayers where it is always a rush against time. It does not matter whether the opposition is a below par West Indies or Bangladesh. You still need to score the runs, hit the boundaries, run the singles and make the most of that slice of luck mid-way your inning. Ever wondered in a world of full of talent why only two batsmen have crossed that magic number?
The answer is both are born with unique talent. It would be ridiculous to put Sehwag’s knocks — yes, he has scored two triple and four centuries in Tests too — to excellent hand-eye coordination or the seemingly devil-may-care approach to batting which works splendidly, well, when it works. That diminishes the batsman that he is. There is a method to his apparent madness. Bowlers around the world have failed to crack it so far.
For a player alleged to be so deficient in technique, his survival for so long in international cricket is a bit of a mystery. But he definitely is one of a kind. No rival can afford to take him lightly. He is perhaps the only top order batsman in the cricketing world for whom bowlers easily give up the idea of setting a trap. The reason is simple: it’s difficult to decode his batting. He gets out when he gets out, that’s it.
It is difficult to put Sehwag in the same bracket as Sachin, or Rahul Dravid. He does not fit into the conventional description of greatness. He looks too cavalier in his approach to the game; he does not bring the same grace to batting as the other two do; and he does not comes across as a senior statesman. But, to be frank, there is no case for comparison. He has redefined batting in his own way and has been successful at it. Knowing him, probably he would be embarrassed to be called a great. He would be happy with being what he is.
Like we said before he is one of his kind. Comparisons don’t do justice to him. If West Indian Chris Gayle stays around for long and plays for his country long enough, possibly he would come in that category. But for now, Sehwag is the lone hero in his unique league.
If he has made batting with gay abandon his trademark style, it is because he bats for the sole joy of batting, the raw primeval pleasure of reducing bowlers into a state of hopelessness. There can be no half-measures about him, no clever effort to wear the bowlers down by just hanging around. He would probably hate batting if he had to do that.
It is the same with Sachin but where they differ is the grace and elegance. However, as long as Sehwag scores heavily it does not matter.
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