Virender Sehwag has an amateur's heart, a gambler's instinct and a desire to succeed that would embarrass even a ruthless, mean professional. He is that rare sportsman who combines in himself a phlegmatic approach, where failure may not be the end of life, but pursuit of success is its cherished goal. It is a tight rope walk where only those who don't fear the fall, go on to succeed.
In more than one way he does not belong to the present era, where safety is given precedence over adventurism. He is no stickler for cricket's coaching manual, where technique is the master to be trifled with at your own peril. He doesn't personify correctness, like a Dravid does, nor does he, like a Tendulkar, manifest perfection. When he bats, caution is thrown to the winds, and the only aim of the bat is to strike the ball as hard and as brutally as possible. No matter what the state of the wicket, the match situation or the quality of the bowlers, his attempt is to send the leather thudding across the ropes, ball after ball, over after over.
The foundations of his batting are simple, so simple and even fragile that the world believes they can get him out anytime they want. The absence of footwork, an innate resistance to follow the structured grammar of his art and an utter disdain for a bowler's reputation or his craft, make his batting so flawed that had his career ended in abysmal failure, no one would have been surprised.
Today, the world looks at him in astonishment, stunned not as much at his achievements as by the manner in which he has decimated the best of bowlers to record phenomenal feats.
Today, they know they will eventually get him out, if lucky, early in his innings, but more often than not, when they do get his wicket, it is too late by then. The damage has already been done and the only thing left for the bowlers is to nurse their bruised egos and seek solace from a scorecard in which no one has been spared - from the best to the worst.
His double hundred has been too late in coming. The world had predicted that if anyone could do it, it would be him, as no one else had the ability for sustained aggression that could condense and epitomize a life-time's ability in one explosive burst. That Tendulkar could beat him in this race speaks of a genius' greater understanding and control over the nuances of the game, over Sehwag's instinctive responses to the challenges thrown by the bowlers.
Sehwag's genius does not lie in the amount of runs he has scored, neither the staggering speed at which he has done it. It lies in his flirting with danger, challenging, teasing and even mocking it to its core and finally conquering it.