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The Guardian

The last 11 times Sehwag has crossed three figures, he has made it past 150. No other current player has made the opposition pay for allowing someone to get set as the Delhi batsman, reports Anand Vasu.

cricket Updated: Aug 05, 2008 00:02 IST
Anand Vasu

At the end of the first day’s play, when Trevor Bayliss addressed the media, he was less than enthusiastic in his praise. “It proves that there is not a lot between success and failure for him. He tried to play the same way at the Sinhalese Sports Club," said Bayliss.

“Good players don’t make their luck, they take advantage of it.” Mahela Jayawardene too wasn't much forthcoming.

It has been that way with Sehwag for a while now. Ever since he burst onto the scene, he has been living in the shadow of the Fab Four – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. For a while, this was only natural for these are players with proven records. What’s more, Sehwag’s cavalier approach to batting always appeared fraught with risk. The assumption was that he would struggle against the moving ball. The assertion was that he couldn’t score consistently at this pace. With a smile on his face, twirling his bat demonically, Sehwag has cut down his detractors one by one. The last 11 times he has crossed three figures, he has made it past 150. No other current player has made the opposition pay for allowing someone to get set as the Delhi batsman.

If a week is a long time in politics, a year is an eternity in sport. In the middle of last year, Sehwag was dropped from Tests. He went back to domestic cricket and found it hard to make runs there too. It was only when the team toured Australia in 2007 did Sehwag come into the mix.

Sehwag was not even in the initial list of 24 probables and it was only a late injury to Gautam Gambhir that saw him make it on the flight. Anil Kumble made it clear he wanted Sehwag and there began a spell of misery for bowlers.

In this calendar year – and there's plenty of Test cricket left for India – Sehwag has already amassed 947 runs, off only seven Tests, including three big knocks: 151 against Australia, 319 against South Africa and this unbeaten 201.

His tendency to race through the nervous 90s is well documented and you don’t expect him to outlast every other batsman in the team, but that's what he did here, becoming only the second Indian after Sunil Gavaskar to carry his bat in a Test innings.

As the shadows lengthen on the careers of Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly, who are in varying stages of the twilights of their career, and increasingly struggling to hit the high notes consistently, it's time to lift the glares of snobbery and look at Sehwag in the clearest possible light.

Enough about high left elbows and back-and-across foot movements. Enough about technique and correctness. Enough of looking to the future to youngsters who are just making a name for themselves in the quest of the next great Indian batsman, it’s time to give credit where it has been due for some while now, to Virender Sehwag.