Things have changed overnight for Virender Sehwag after being dropped - he is slowly coming to terms with the fact that he has no other option but to return to the basics to get back into the Indian team.
But unlike his early days, when he could work in the nets without any distraction, now he is under a constant watch --- now he has found a way to go unnoticed, sporting a new look.
On Friday evening, as he stepped into familiar territory --- the ground at the Govt. Boys Sr. Sec. School, Vikas Puri, where he studied till Class X --- he looked a rather foreign figure. It took everyone a while to realise that the man sporting a goatee was the superstar they had been waiting to see.
For almost half-an-hour, while the teachers kept pushing the students back into the classrooms, suggestions kept pouring in for Sehwag. "Keep your shots to the ground. Don't hit the ball in the air," were the most common tips from the young 'coaches'.
Sehwag seemed to pay heed to the last advice. Though the bowlers were all amateurs --- only a handful of them have played for Delhi in juniors tournaments --- Sehwag seemed to be taking the nets very seriously.
Having been dropped for playing 'irresponsible' shots too early in his innings, Sehwag did not give his coach A.N. Sharma any chance for any such complaint during his one-hour stint in the nets.
Has Sehwag deliberately cut down on his shots? When this question was thrown to Sharma, he confirmed that "the only thing I have asked him this time is to cut down on his aggression."
Does it bother Sharma that his pupil was sacked because of extremely aggressive batting?
"There is nothing wrong with Virender's aggression or technique," Sharma said. "Over a period of time, a batsman starts playing shots which were never taught to him, just because they fetch him easy runs, without realising that he's picked bad habits. But when the bowlers attack his weaknesses, he is confused about how to give up shots that have given him so many runs."
Sehwag has never curbed his aggression, hitting aerial shots even at the start of his innings. Chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar has criticised him for not batting responsibly, advising him to go back to the nets and solve his problems.
Sharma has been working with Sehwag right from his early days in the game, and Sehwag has come back to the coach to get his advice. And Sharma has every reason to believe that Sehwag can come stronger out of this crisis.
"Under these circumstances, any player would be under tremendous psychological pressure. But a coach has to deal delicately with these situations," he said.
Sharma doesn't feel it necessary to share his counselling with anyone except his favourite pupil. "This (his advice) is very personal, so please don't ask me about that," he begs to get back to Sehwag.