Sunday, May 18, 2014

Duplicate Sachin

Virender Sehwag(Sihag)
Virender Sehwag(Sihag) (Photo credit: sihagjat)
The past couple of days have been quite traumatic for me, given the results of the Indian general elections. The last time I have felt as low as this was after the 2003 World Cup final in South Africa, when India was given a hiding by the Aussies. I realize the folly in comparing the result of a cricket match to the result of a general election but I bring it up only to emphasize that as a committed Indian cricket fan and a committed Indian, my stand is unchanged. I will be there to cheer for it at the best of times, I will be there to fight for it in the worst of times. No matter who is the Prime Minister.
-
I still don't know how long it will take me to recover. In the Indian cricket team's case, at least the 2011 World Cup final was my redemption. Mixed feelings dominate as I have had conversations with people who voted for Narendra Modi strictly on his "development" agenda despite knowing the darker shades of his camp, but disturbingly also with the rabid anti-Muslim side who sincerely insist that the 2002 post Godhra riots were "cleaning up" activities where only people who "deserved" to be murdered were murdered & support more of the same at the India level. Time will tell.
-
On such days, I give myself consolation by remembering days when I was proven wrong. One such day was a day in 2001 when Virender Sehwag burst onto the Indian cricket team.
-
A 64 ball ODI century against New Zealand century caused a classmate of mine to come bounding up to my apartment. "Kyaa player aayelaa hai! [What a find for the team]", said Bhavesh all excited. I shot him down with a "Bhagg saala! Kaun hai yeh duplicate Sachin? [Who is this duplicate Sachin?]" To this day, I remember the hurt look in his eyes, and my lack of respect for his enthusiasm. In fact, I almost said sorry right then. Almost.
-
Sehwag did look like a duplicate Sachin at first glance, the same physical build and the same aggressive mentality. Only that his technique was vastly inferior to Sachin's and for lack of a better word very 'raw'. How long could anyone get by with that kind of foundation?
-
Boy, was I off the mark! Because Viru is not Sachin 2, he is Viru 1 (Discounting filmy Virus here). As the years went by, my admiration for Viru only grew, as did my shame at not recognizing his skill at first glance. Bhavesh, if you are reading this, I was wrong and you were right.
-
The term "force of nature" is the king of cliches in the case of sportsmen but there is frankly no other way to describe Virender Sehwag. The physics defying bat speed, the smack and deliver approach and the match winning prowess - all packed in a guy as nice as Sachin in attitude. If you've read any of my blogs before, you would know how hard-core a Sachin fan I am but I must agree that Viru has been as influential as Sachin and at times more, since he started playing for India.
-
The 2011 semi-final versus Pakistan may have looked like a Sachin show helped along by the butter-fingered Pakistani fielders but the real story began with the first few overs. Umar Gul, the bowler of the tournament leading into the match was taken apart by our man from Najafgarh. Once the Pakistani attack's most lethal weapon was neutralized, everyone including Sachin reaped its benefits.
-
There are those who call him a "hudjudiyaa" (a term used in the cricket fields of Gujarat for the 'swing and pray' type of mindless batting). I say no hudjudiyaa in the world can score two international Test triple centuries and be the current holder of the highest ODI score in the world (219 v/s West Indies). There is method to the madness and because his technique is simplified does not mean that he is not thinking about his game.
-
It's sad to see his hand-eye co-ordination desert him in his later years but that is the pitfall of being a purely natural player, a fate suffered by fellow legends like Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. Unlike this trio, the focus on technique helped slow the decline of players like Rahul Dravid and Sachin significantly. But to each his own. Team India needs every sort to balance its needs and they have all served us well.
-
He may never make it back to the international team. Much as I hope for a sparkling return to form for him, I know it's quite unrealistic a hope. But there was a unique excitement to watching Sehwag face up to the most fearsome bowlers in the world, knowing that whatever happened, nice guy though Viru was, he would not hold back when it came to his bat doing the talking. 
-
Even Indian cricket's enemy number one (IMO... just kidding :D, maybe not :[ ) Ricky Ponting quietly acknowledged it one day, when he said about David Warner "We have FINALLY found ourselves an opener in the Sehwag mould..."
-
For better or for worse, Virender Sehwag has only one mode. Swashbuckler.
-

Enhanced by Zemanta

4 comments:

Kumar Bibek said...

Well well well, Viru would be so happy to read this. But, I don't think he is going to make a comeback now. I would be happy though, if he plays again.

Roy said...

Yeah, the other day I was watching the Delhi-Haryana Ranji match only so I could see Sehwag bat, an event soon to be confined only to memory and YouTube replays.

Kumar Bibek said...

Not blogging these days?

Roy said...

Yes... "planning" to make amends this year.