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‘Icon’ Sehwag justifies status

cricket Updated: Apr 24, 2008 03:21 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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"On my day no-one can stop me," Virender Sehwag said, shortly after creaming 94 in Delhi's easy win over Hyderabad in their second match of the Indian Premier League. There was a smile on his face and not a trace of arrogance.

It was not said in anger or with any sort of disrespect for the opposition. He was merely stating a fact. When the Delhi team was being put together by its owners, Sehwag was not a sure starter in the national team.

But they had little doubt in their minds about whom they wanted at the helm and did all they could to ensure that Sehwag was given icon status so that he would not slip from their grasp. If this meant they had to pay a premium of 15 per cent, then so be it.

After two consecutive wins, both comprehensive and coming against teams who were fancied at the start of the tournament, it certainly appears that the decision to leave Sehwag in charge was a right one.

A fall and a loss

For long, Sehwag was vice-captain of the India team, and it was understood that he was being groomed for the top job.

He was seen as the link between the two generations that span this India team, with Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly at one end of the spectrum and the likes of Robin Uthappa, Sreesanth and Rohit Sharma at the other.

In terms of age he was in the right place to bridge the gap. But the fact that he lost his place in the team at an inopportune time, combined with the rise of Mahendra Singh Dhoni meant that Sehwag was overlooked for the captaincy.

He did stand in on five different occasions in ODIs but did not seem a natural captain, chasing the ball when he set the field, being more reactionary than proactive.

Captain courageous in T20

In Twenty20 cricket, though, it has been the other way round. This format does not call for elaborate strategies, but does demand that the captain keep an open mind.

It also demands that the captain has an appetite for taking punishment because every team, no matter how good, will take a beating if one batsman in the opposition runs away with the game.

The format also challenges batsmen to play freely and fearlessly, with a positive mindset rather than worrying about

failure. Sehwag has played all his cricket in this manner. Now he has a chance to impress the same philosophy — if you can call it that — on his team.

Keeping it simple

He's kept it simple, using his high-quality seam attack to rough up the top order, following that up with effective, disciplined bowling from the support cast.

"The problem with us in India is that we tend to intellectualise things too much," Yogesh Shetty, chief executive of the Delhi team, told the Hindustan Times .

"In this format you can't do that. “As players, as organisers, as fans you have to enjoy the game, have fun. The results will come."

For the moment, the Delhi captain is certainly delivering results, while putting a smile on the faces of his team's supporters.