Virender Sehwag was not that big name when he scored a blistering century to knock England out of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002. Sehwag scored 126 off just 104 balls with 21 fours and a six, and had an opening stand of 192 with skipper Sourav Ganguly to thrash England by eight wickets in what was effectively a quarter-final.
India were playing against England coming after a thrilling win at Lord's in the final of the NatWest Trophy, and this thumping victory proved that India was now a dominating one-day outfit, and that the batting line-up was the most explosive in world cricket. Later in the tournament, India defeated South Africa by 10 runs in the semi-final, and were declared joint champions with hosts Sri Lanka after the final was washed out twice due to rain. Sehwag was the top scorer in the tournament with 271 runs.
No team had ever chased more than 244 and won at the Premadasa until that time, but the assault from the Indian openers took the game away from England in the first 15 overs of the innings. India chased down the target of 270 with more than ten overs to spare.
The England pacers, especially Andrew Caddick and Dominic Cork, were hit all over the park. Sehwag was dropped by Nick Knight at second slip on 3 and Ganguly could also have been run out for 12 had Nasser Hussain managed to hit the stumps from mid-off.
After England recovered from early blows to post a fighting total of 269, Sehwag started the innings with devastating force and took the momentum away from England very early. Sehwag, as we know, has a tendency to play loose shots outside the off stump, and England's bowlers failed to capitalise on that. They were bowling to his pads at the start of the innings, and this gave him the chance to play his shots without taking much risk.
Caddick was struck for three fours in one over by Sehwag and followed up with a huge six to third man; he conceded 49 runs from six overs with the new ball. Sehwag hit Caddick for 43 of those with seven fours and a six off the 25 balls he faced from the right-arm pacer.
After the match, Sehwag had a very usual reaction: "We knew we had to play well against their top two bowlers because after that there was not much left. My game plan was just to go out there and hit as hard as I could - and it paid off," he said.
His innings ranks among the best knocks in the Champions Trophy.