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Lion of Lahore in Wilderness

365 days of journey from January 13 to 12 was all downhill for Sehwag, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2007 21:18 IST

What could former Indian vice-captain Virender Sehwag be thinking just a day after his unceremonious removal from the Indian squad? That is after tears have dried, and varied thoughts beginning to clutter his otherwise uncomplicated mind.

Certainly not about his Ranji Century or six wickets which saved Delhi from relegation.

Certainly not about facing potential rivals in the upcoming World Cup with his place now genuinely threatened.

May be he could be thinking in remorse about the numerous lifelines thrown to him for the past one year by ever generous Indian selectors.

And ruefully about tremendous confidence that Rahul Dravid had in his ability, which he had failed to repay.

And, certainly about his knock in Pakistan one year back when he took the formidable arch-rival's attack led by Shoaib Akhtar by scruff of the neck.

Reflections on the glorious past do not help alleviate the present misery,  but Sehwag can certainly be pardoned for letting his thoughts wander to the test at Lahore, Which began exactly one year to this day, when his bat had thundered with its full might against a very incisive attack.

Facing a Pakistani first innings score of 679 was never going to be easy. With a makeshift Partner in Dravid to accommodate Sourav in the team, the responsibility was solely on the Nawab of Nazafgarh to snatch the initiative back.

Sehwag did not disappoint. Not he only scored run-a-ball 254 but also along with Rahul Dravid, almost broke 50-year-old record of Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy of 413 runs for the first wicket.

However, their 410 run partnership was the tenth best for all wickets in test history, and Sehwag became the only Indian with two 250+ knocks.

After this kind of performance, the graph of this free-stroking genius was expected to go up and up. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the other way round. It went down and down.

In 22 test innings after Lahore, Sehwag managed just one century and two fifties. Worse, he had 12 scores of less than 10!

Table One
Sehwag in Tests
(22 innings after Lahore)

 100+  1
 50+  2
 10-49  7
 Less than 10 12 

However, Sehwag looked to have compensated somewhat in the ODIs with some attacking display and till about the West Indies tour, managed to keep his average intact.

In fact, the ODIs in West Indies indicated some kind of revival for Sehwag as he went on to hit two ninety plus score. The contrast between 2005-2006 season and the West Indies tour in ODIs was quite visible.


Table Two
2005-06 vs West Indies tour

Particulars  Matches Runs Avg 50s
2005-06  26 790 31.6 4
WI Tour   5 237 47.4 2

However, the famous hand-eye coordination started to fall apart again for Sehwag as the champion batsman reached 50 only once in his next ten innings.

Table Three
Sehwag in ODIs
(10 innings after WI tour)

 50+ 1
 20-49 0
 10-19 4
 Less than 10 5

 

To cap this miserable performance, if we take away his best innings of 65 against Australia in the Champions Trophy, the average drops below ten runs off nine innings!

Table Four
Sehwag in ODIs after WI Tour
(With and Without Best Innings)

Particulars  Innings Runs Avg 50s
All innings  10 148 14.8 1
Without best inngs   9  83  9.2 0

Such inconsistency in both form of cricket for one year was just too much to digest for the selectors.

And the dream, which had begun to take shape in the Lahore test, had become a nightmare in course of just one year.

The flight which took off so effortlessly in the test beginning January 13, 2006, inevitably crash-landed 365 days later on January 12, 2007.