We all know him as Viru. He was accused of copying Sachin’s style when he stepped onto the international circuit. Although there is nothing wrong with having an idol you look up to, he not only established his own unique style of playing but he did it alongside Sachin himself. The pair wreaked havoc on the pitch as openers and they were a nightmare for bowlers. Sehwag made a name for himself of being a pure cricketer. He never bothered with anything else, he just went out there and played with his heart. His body language seemed casual at times, but he pulled off miraculous moments and cemented his legacy in the game of cricket because in his heart he never took it casually.
We were all so mesmerized by the man’s skill with the bat, we never paid attention to anything else around him or what he did. So here are a few fascinating tales of Viru that are worth sharing:
1. Jeremy Snape, the no.8 batsman for Lancashire, complained to his partner Viru that the old ball’s swing was troubling him. There were 40 overs left. Next over, Viru stepped down the pitch and hit the ball out of the stadium. The umpires called for a new ball and Sehwag said to Snape, “The new ball won’t swing for some time. We are safe for another two hours.”
2. Dhoni once accused him of being a slow fielder. This is how Sehwag replied:
3. Sehwag was hitting sixes all over the place in the Multan Test vs Pakistan in 2004. Sachin asked him to calm down and he hit no more sixes until he reached 295. He asked Sachin if he could hit one then. And without fear of not making to his 300, he stepped out and whacked it out of the ground. He became the first Indian to score a 300 & was given the title, ‘Multan ka Sultan’.
4. He had promised Laxman before his debut that he will not miss a 300 like Laxman did in Kolkata when he got out on 281. So after completing the milestone in Multan, he raised his bat towards Laxman, as a reminder of that promise.
5. A fan walked up to him to get his bat autographed. Sehwag signed on the back side of the bat and said, “If I sign it on the front, you will not play with this bat anymore. So I am signing it on the back. Best of luck!”
6. In a match against Pakistan, Shoaib Akhtar kept bowling bouncers to Sehwag and dared him to hook the ball countless times. Finally, Sehwag got frustrated and asked:
“Abey bheek maang raha hai kya?”
“Woh non-striker end pe tera baap khada hai, usko bol woh marke dikhayega.”
Sachin was standing there.
In his next over, Akhtar bowled a bouncer to Sachin and he hit the ball out the park.
Sehwag then told Akhtar, “Baap baap hota hai aur beta beta.”
7. During a tour in South Africa, him & Gautam Gambhir were asked not to go out at night as it seemed dangerous. But Sehwag told the security: “No, there is no danger. We are the most dangerous batsmen in the world.”
8. In March of 2008, Sehwag was batting on 291. The South Africans had resorted to negative bowling, preventing Viru from getting his shots away. Sehwag then told Paul Harris, “Come around the wicket and I will hit you for a six first ball.” Harris accepted and was hit for a six by Sehwag on the first ball after that.
9. Viru was once slapped by coach John Wright for a poor performance. Even though an apology was expected by Wright, Sachin asked Sehwag to let the matter rest as a John was a father figure to all. Viru never spoke of it again.
10. Once while playing a Ranji match for Delhi, he purposely pretended to miss a shot so that the bowler bowls a fuller length. The next two balls were fuller and sent to the ropes by Sehwag.
11. Recently, Shaun Pollock was asked who was the toughest batsman to bowl to – Dravid, Sachin or Ganguly? He replied, “Virender Sehwag”.
12. Such was his confidence that he announced in a press conference that he would score a double century in ODIs. And he managed that magnificent feat by scoring 219 off 149 balls against West Indies on 8th Dec, 2011.
13. During 2003-04, he got out on 195 in a Boxing Day Test, trying to hit a six. Harsha Bhogle asked him why he did not take singles because he just missed his double century by 5 runs. Sehwag said to him: “I just missed the six by 3 yards.”
Proof of how strongly he believed in his style of playing.
14. None of us know how Sehwag actually got selected for the Indian cricket team. Until ex-BCCI chairman, Jaywant Lele, revealed something only he and two other people knew. Here is the video:
On 21st October, 37 years ago, Virender Sehwag was born. Coincidentally, he also announced his official retirement from international cricket in 2015, on his birthday.
“I hereby retire from all forms of international cricket and from the Indian Premier League. A statement will follow.”