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Virender Sehwag, the man who broke the speed barrier

Rajesh Kumar | | Updated: October 21, 2015, 6:25 PM IST

The scoreboard read 295. India were just 5 runs away from breaking a run barrier. None before, not even Sunil Gavaskar, had reached any where near the milestone. Any one else would have chosen the safer route – cover the remaining distance in five strides. But not Virender Sehwag. He settled the issue with a six. The Nawab of Najafgarh became the Sultan of Multan.

The world, however, will remember him for breaking the speed barrier.

Sehwag played Tests like he would play one-dayers and later Twenty20. His first triple century, 309, came off 375 deliveries at a strike rate of 82.4. His second triple, 319 against the South Africans in Chennai, took just 304 balls, a strike rate of more than 104. And he did all this as an opener.

Those were no flash in the pan moments. He scored his 23 Test hundreds at a strike rate of 83.49, just a shade above a career strike rate of 82.23. Only four of his 23 hundreds were scored at a strike rate of less than 70. Six of them were more than a run a ball.

Nobody, not Brian Lara, not Sanath Jayasuriya, not Sachin Tendulkar, batted as fast as Sehwag. If they were the Merc and BMW of the cricket circuit, Sehwag was the jet engine propelled Ferrari.

The Nawab was consistent, brutal and thrilling in equal measure. When a batsman, that too an opener, scores at this rate, his team gets that much more time to bowl at the opposition. Eighteen times he scored a hundred, the team didn't lose the match. But surprisingly, Sehwag, the match winner, went unsung.

His batting, many felt, was ugly. A Rahul Dravid would move his legs to reach the pitch of the ball before driving it to the covers. Sehwag would wonder why. Why should I when I can hit the ball standing where I am. The hook was perhaps the only shot he didn't master. Maybe because the shot couldn't be played standing at the crease. May be he was too lazy for that. Maybe he didn't need to.

When Sehwag started, he was called the clone. Sachin's clone. Both played similar backfoot punches, straight drives… Sometime down the line, Sachin slowed, Sehwag didn't. He carried on like he started, at the same pace, with no eye for the milestones. In the end, the clone proved braver than the original.
First Published: October 21, 2015, 5:44 PM IST

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