Careless, reckless, overly impatient... Virender Sehwag has copped all these adjectives of criticism. Today, he plays his 100th Test match and it’s a heavyweight of an occasion. In a way, he has silenced his critics by joining great Indian batsmen like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly in the 100-plus Tests club.
Sehwag started his Test career with a century at Bloemfontein on the South Africa tour of 2001-02, but he truly emerged as a devastating batsman when asked by skipper Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright to open the innings on the 2002 tour of England. He nearly got a hundred in his first Test as opener and his dismissal in the second innings of that Test caused a journalist in England to term it as a potential match-losing shot. India did lose the Test.
He was smarter than the cynics gave him credit for though and went on to get a hundred in the next Test at Trent Bridge. Even though he indulges in rash play at times, it is wrong to believe that he doesn’t give much thought to his cricket.
Sehwag wouldn’t be Sehwag if not for his aggressive ways and though he has been frustrating at times — like his king pair in Edgbaston last year, he must be given credit for his 8,000 plus runs for India.
Captains the world over pay him the biggest compliment each time they delay their declaration in order to make India’s fourth innings targets near-impossible to get because the batting order has a certain Virender Sehwag.
You can never bet on what Sehwag will do to the bowlers. He can be brilliant or benevolent in his 100th Test at the Wankhede Stadium, but he must be accepted as one of the many great batsmen produced by this country. At tea-time, the Indian team can drink to that!