Thursday, December 08, 2011

Sehwag 219

I missed this innings. Today, he was apparently thinking about being patient.

There is much to be said about the limits of Sehwag's virtuosity in conditions where the ball is swinging or seaming. But I ask you to spend a minute or so observing two shots in that video.

The first is at 1:01, off the off-spinner. Sehwag drives it on the rise, behind square on the off side. He does this without backing away to leg, without seemingly loosing his shape at all. He met it perfectly, such that a mere flick of the wrist sent it racing away to the backward point boundary. It is a stroke most batsmen cannot even imagine, let alone play in an international match! If this was an Olympic diving competition and the most difficult dives were of 3.7 difficulty, then the dive equivalent to that shot would be of about 5.0 difficulty. Just think about it. First, it is being played off a spinner, it is not a half volley, it is played against the break, it is played with a straightish bat, square of the wicket, inside out, without premeditation.

The second is at about 1:10, off Ravi Rampaul. It is a ball bowled at a nearly identical line and length as the earlier off break. It is about 1 1/2 times faster than the off break (about 130-135 kph compared to the off spinners 85-90). Yet, this one is dispatched square of the wicket on the leg side! With seemingly no premeditated intent.

The computer as a metaphor falls short to describe the incredible virtuosity on display here. This is magician at work, not a supercomputer. I say this knowing fully well that computer programs have beaten the best humans at Chess, and done many harder and computationally more demanding tasks.

Some of the bowling seems to be quite ordinary, especially considering the number of easy runs Sehwag seems to have gotten behind square on the leg side. Tendulkar's double hundred, on a comparable wicket, came against Dale Steyn and a crack South African fielding unit. Sehwag's innings, in the way the West Indies bowling seems to have fallen apart against him, reminds me of Tendulkar's 186 at Hyderabad against New Zealand in 1999. In that match, he shared a triple century stand with Rahul Dravid.

In two parts, Sehwag's 293 at CCI against Sri Lanka. He made 284 of those in 79 overs on the second day. A scoring rate which, if anything, is even more breathtaking than his effort at Indore yesterday. After this innings he said he was just hitting the bad balls.

Here's Sehwag's 195 at Melbourne in 2003 (in two parts). This was our first real glimpse of his genius.

Here is his 319 against South Africa at Chennai in 2008

For at least three years now, I've felt that Sehwag ranks among the greatest batsmen of all time. His ability to transcend a contest is unmatched in contemporary cricket, possibly even in all cricket (with one obvious exception). To call him a great entertainer is to do him a disservice. It is a little bit like calling Usain Bolt a great entertainer.

Sehwag is the essential genius. He takes the game to places it has never been. He expands the realm of possibility within cricket. When I think back to the 2003 World Cup Final in light of what Sehwag has demonstrated time and again, I'd say that Australia were lucky that March 23, 2003 was not Virender Sehwag's day. On his day, he could have bridged the gap between the two teams, and then some, without breaking a sweat.

He scored at 4 1/2 an over at Indore yesterday. He could have made 250. I think he will before he's finished.


  1. Youtube removed that video. You may want to update the post with a new video and updated references for times for those two shots

  2. was a innings of a life time :) come u missed it ;)