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Sehwag's been as consistent, if not, more than Yuvraj and is now back in vogue in ODIs too

Sunday, November 23, 2021

Hello, this is Viru here!

Chandresh Narayanan

Bengaluru: In all the hype and hoopla surrounding the performance of Yuvraj Singh, there has been one other quiet yet explosive performer in the Hero Honda Cup.

And that was none other than the newly re-appointed vice-captain of the Indian ODI and Test team, Virender Sehwag. The Delhi dasher has been setting it up in a way for Yuvraj thus far and the left-hander is teeing from there.

Everybody has forgotten the role played by Sehwag in this series. If anything, Sehwag has been more consistent than any other batsman. His explosive starts have put England on the backfoot and from there on it has been just too difficult for the visitors to come back in the series.

A classic case in point of this has been the fourth ODI here at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Sehwag walked in with a new and yet his old partner-in-crime, master batsman Sachin Tendulkar. Yet the change at the top seemed to make no difference to the way Sehwag was going to approach the game.

He walked in and took first strike after a brief chat with Tendulkar. James Anderson ran in too bowl and the very first ball of the match was slapped for a four over the cover region.

The Indian innings was up and away, so was Sehwag. From there on Sehwag just took off, making the most of the field restrictions. He was not afraid to play the ball on the up and was willing to take risks. He allowed Tendulkar to ease his way back into ODI cricket.

While Sehwag was on fire, Tendulkar could just get a sighter. Sehwag at the other hand was absorbing all the attention and was willing to play the short ball well.

Stuart Broad overdid the short stuff and paid the price for it too. Sehwag on the other hand was even willing to play off his legs and show that he was more than just a power player.

The best part of the rain-affected ODI was the contest between Andrew Flintoff and Sehwag. A charging Flintoff made no impact on Sehwag, who treated him with equal disdain. In the course of the innings, Sehwag also passed 6,000 ODI runs. He became just the sixth Indian to enter the club. And by the looks of it, he won't stay there for long.

The flow in the innings was back on track as Sehwag was joined by his regular opening partner, Gautam Gambhir. The fact that Gambhir started off with a flourish ensured that Sehwag would have to vie for attention from a raucous crowd. So, Sehwag just decided to take matters into his own hand.

Rain breaks caused temporary halt to Sehwag's running train, but it also provided a reason for the near full-house at the ground to stay on and watch the Delhi dasher in action.

The Englishmen are probably wondering by now what would have been. To think that Sehwag had been dropped for the England tour last year shows the remarkable comeback made by the man.

Sehwag was written off as an ODI player because of his inconsistency and was preferred only for Tests. For a man who likes to play with fire, not being considered for ODIs would have hurt.

Now though he has return to top form and also regained the spot at the top of the order has almost gone unnoticed as the others around him have taken centrestage. For all the troubles he had spending time in the wilderness for the better of 2007, Sehwag has made 2008 his own.

It is really time to sit back and applaud the man for his tenacity.