Opener Virender Sehwag on Friday became the ninth Indian cricketer to complete a century of Test appearances when he took the field in Mumbai in the second match of the ongoing series against England.
The 34-year-old amassed 8,448 runs at an average of 50.89 and a staggering strike rate of 82.45 before the Test that started on Friday.
The swashbuckling batsman has 23 hundreds under his belt over the last 12 years, including four double and two triple centuries with a highest of 319 against South Africa at Chennai in March 2008.
Apart from Sehwag, India's 100-Test club includes Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Sourav Ganguly.
In the 99 Test matches he has so far played, the 34-year-old amassed 8,448 runs at an average of 50.89 and a staggering strike rate of 82.45 to boot -- amazing figures for a Test batsman.The Delhi batsman has scored 23 hundreds over the last 12 years, including four double centuries and two triple centuries with a highest of 319 scored against South Africa at Chennai in March 2008.
That was his second triple ton, the first (309) being against Pakistan at Multan in 2004. The knock against the Proteas included 42 boundaries and five sixes and came at a rollicking strike rate of 104.93.
Sehwag became the first Indian to score 300 runs in an innings eclipsing VVS. Laxman's memorable 281 which he scored at Eden Gardens in 2001, and that March 2004 innings in Multan earned him the title of 'Sultan of Multan.'
These two big ones put the 'Nawab of Najafgarh' in elite company as one of the only four batsmen to have scored two triple centuries. The others are cricket's demi-god Don Bradman, batting legend Brian Lara and destructive West Indian Chris Gayle.
Sehwag, who made his first-class debut as a bowler who was a handy bat lower down the order, was moved to the top by skipper Sourav Ganguly at Lord's in 2002 to find a place for him in the side as he could not have fitted in the middle-order.
This reluctant change came about after he became the 11th Indian to score a hundred on debut batting in the middle-order against South Africa in Bloemfontein in 2001.
In his first Test as an opener, Sehwag struck a belligerent 84 and he came to stay as an opener, though he kept saying that he would prefer to bat in the middle-order despite his resounding success as an opener.
He revolutionised the game with his approach as an opener, amassing runs at a frenetic pace. His strike rate of 82.45 is the best for any batsman who has aggregated 2000-plus runs.
Viru's performance away from home is also quite impressive, considering that the Indian batsmen have to bat on much faster and seamer-friendly pitches overseas.In the 52 matches he has played overseas, he has amassed 3930 runs at an average of 44.65 as against 4518 runs at an average of 57.92 at home.
After scoring his first century in over two years in the Ahmedabad Test against England, one can only expect more fireworks from the explosive batsman who former India coach John Wright described as "the limited overs batsman who revolutioned Test cricket".
'Sehwag's mindset totally different'
Sehwag would be making his 100th Test appearance when he takes the field against England here tomorrow in the second game of the ongoing four-match series.
"The crucial decision that he made in his career was when he decided that he will open the innings. I think that was a big challenge for him but he accepted it. His stats are one of the best stats that you can see. He is someone who is very different to a lot of individuals. His thinking is entirely different," Dhoni said at the pre-match press conference in Mumbai.
"How he takes up or faces a particular kind of challenge is very different."
"He has got a very important role right from the very start. He is someone who can play shots right from the very first delivery, which means if the bowler is off target, he looks to put pressure on the bowler," Dhoni said.
"We have seen once the batsmen get after the bowlers and if they score a few boundaries off the bowler, then it is very difficult for them to get back into the game," he added.
Dhoni said Sehwag is always full of positive energy irrespective of his form with the bat.
"When you talk about the mindset, that is why he is so special. Whether he is in form or not in form, it does not really bother him. He just keeps thinking positive. He was working a lot on his batting but still his approach remained the same," said Dhoni.
"His (Sehwag's) role is very crucial, not to forget the experience that he has got playing in all the formats and also the fact that he still can get us a few wickets. We have not been using him too much in the bowling department but is still someone who can get us a few breakthroughs," said Dhoni.
'No one likes bowling to Sehwag'
Australian spin legend Shane Warne has said that Virender Sehwag, who will be playing his 100th Test match tomorrow, is one of the most dangerous players in the game and bowlers dislike facing the big-hitting Indian opener.
"He is a good guy. With a Kevin Pietersen, he is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world. No one likes bowling to him," Warne said.
The former Australian leg-spinner said Sehwag is not just about natural talent.
"To play a hundredth Test match, you need a lot of things going for you, outside of just natural talent. He is a very good player. You have have to have commitment, dedication, that sacrifice."You have to be prepared to play for a long period of time. So to see him play his 100th match tomorrow is going to be fantastic. I am very happy for him to get to hundred Test matches," Warne added.