Watching Virender Sehwag at his best is like going on a roller coaster ride. You don’t know what will come next, but you surely know that it will keep you on the edge of your seat.
His philosophy of batting is simple- If the ball is pitched in my arc, then it will disappear. The format does not matter, nor does the person who is bowling to him.
On 5 May 2011, the marauding opener lit up the Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Hyderabad with his effervescent stroke play that rattled the Deccan Chargers Hyderabad outfit. Delhi Daredevils were left with a tricky target of 176, and a lot hinged on how the legendary opener fared with the willow.
Virender Sehwag on a rampage
Dale Steyn was steaming in, and hurled the delivery at searing pace at Virender Sehwag. The opener fended at it, the ball took the edge and flew past second slip and into the boundary. Fortune indeed favors the brave, and Sehwag was a man who knew no fears.
Delhi kept losing wickets at the other end, but Sehwag was still out there. A flick off Indian team mate Ishant Sharma gave the batting maestro his second boundary of the innings. The Delhi side moved to 29/3 after 6 overs, and more importantly their skipper was still out there in the middle.
In the 8th over of the innings, Sehwag just tore into young medium pacer Ishan Malhotra. The first ball of the over was pitched on leg stump, Sehwag just flicked it off his pads and the ball sailed into the crowd. The second ball was pitched on middle stump, Sehwag went across the line and deposited the ball over deep mid wicket for another six.
The next two balls went for two consecutive boundaries as well. The debutant, Malhotra was taken to the cleaners, and Sehwag was stamping his authority all over the game in his grand style.
Power and placement
The fifth ball of the 9th over witnessed Sehwag at his riveting best. Daniel Christian bowled a perfect delivery on of stump, Sehwag rose on his toes and drove the ball past deep cover for a boundary.
The batting gladiator brought up his half century in scintillating fashion. The ball was tossed up from Amit Mishra, Sehwag put on the dancing shoes and walloped the cherry over Long Off for six.
After reaching his half century, Sehwag showed no signs of stopping. A ‘wrong un’ from Mishra was guided with guile by the batting maestro past third man for a boundary. He was showing the world that his batsman ship was not just about power, but also about placement.
In the 12th over of the innings, Virender Sehwag smashed Mishra for three consecutive fours, and all that the bowler could do was gape at him in sheer disbelief. The Daredevils were getting closer to the target, and it was becoming easy just because of one man’s brilliance with the willow.
Sehwag also took Dale Steyn to the cleaners in the 13th over of the innings. To a fast and short delivery on off stump, Sehwag beautifully got on top of the ball and guided it past point for a boundary. And off the next ball, Sehwag got inside the line and just flicked the cherry off his hips for another boundary.
Maiden IPL hundred
Virender Sehwag brought up his maiden IPL hundred with a couple through the leg side. He rose his bat to acknowledge the deafening cheers from the stands. The scorecard read 129/4, and the Delhi innings had all been about just one man’s fireworks with the willow.
The next two balls were smashed for two towering sixes that sailed into the crowd. It was as if Sehwag was celebrating his maiden IPL hundred by toying with the opposition bowling even further.
The Delhi dasher’s rollicking innings came to an end when he edged Dale Steyn to Sangakkara. Off the 56 balls he had faced, he had scored a blistering 119, and the crowd rose to applaud a gem of an innings from one of the greats of the game. Even Dale Steyn walked up to congratulate the dashing batsman, as he walked back to the pavilion.
This knock was typical Virender Sehwag. He showed no mercy to the bowling attack, lit up the ground with his fabulous stroke play, and dazzled his way to a sparkling century.
Nine years have passed since that night in Hyderabad, but the memories of the Sehwag blitzkrieg will remain fresh in the memories of all those who watched the special innings from the willow of a very special cricketer.
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