Sehwag is now Chennai's Superking

CNN-IBN
Mar 29, 2008 at 09:27pm IST

On Friday, Virender Sehwag became the member of an exclusive club. He became only the third batsman after the legendary Australian Sir Don Bradman and former West Indies skipper Brian Lara to score two Test triple centuries.

Sehwag achieved the feat on Day III of the first Test against South Africa at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

His 300 runs came off just 278 balls and is the fastest triple century in a Test.

UNIQUE FEAT: Sehwag is the only Indian to have scored two triple centuries in Tests.

When stumps were drawn on the day's play, Sehwag was batting on 309 with the help of 42 boundaries and five sixes while Dravid was on 65 with eight hits to the fence.

He had became the only Indian batsman to have crossed the 300-run mark when he reached his first triple century with a six off Saqlain Mushtaq during the Multan Test against Pakistan on March 28, 2004, and was promptly christened as the Sultan of Multan.

And four years later, Sehwag's bat made sure that he reached another milestone when he took a single off Makhaya Ntini to move from 299 to 300 and conquered Chennai.

As Sehwag silenced his critics with his superlative strokeplay, CNN-IBN discussed his unique feat in a special show.

The panel on the show consisted of former India women's team skipper Anjum Chopra, two of Sehwag's closest childhood friends Adil and Rajveer, and two men who have closely followed Sehwag's career - CNN-IBN Sports Editor Gaurav Kalra and former India skipper Krishnamachari Srikkanth.

Sehwag's childhood friend Adil credited his success to his mental strength.

"Virender Sehwag is mentally very strong. He can face any situation very boldly. On 99 he hit Jacques Kallis for a four and during the Multan Test against Pakistan when he was on 295 then also he had hit a six. So according to me he is never under pressure," Adil replied when asked what the triple century meant to Sehwag.

His other friend Rajveer said that despite not being in the Test team for the last one year and making a comeback only during the Australia tour, he was confident that Sehwag would come good.

"We did not talk about the Australia tour (where he got in the team only because Gautam Gambhir was injured). But I had already said that he would be going to Australia and he went to Australia and performed. In the first two Tests he was not in the playing XI so there was a setback," Rajveer said.

"I think for any batsman, specially Virender Sehwag, who has been in the Indian side and has been playing international cricket for the last few years, it is not easy to go through the rigours of sitting out as a 12th man, carrying drinks and going through a phase that he has gone in the past year or so, especially after a time when he was the premier-most batsman that the world looked up to. So from there on to being out of the team and to be back again today performing really well in Australia in what ever chances he was given, sitting out in the One-Dayers and then coming back and scoring a triple century is great. Given all these scenarios, I think it's hats off to him. Definitely he is mentally a very strong cricketer and you need to be so playing at that level. I think scoring 300 runs on any soil, against any opposition definitely deserves a bow," Anjum said.

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At the end of the days' play Sehwag said it was difficult time for him when he was not in the team and he dedicated his triple century to his late father.

Rajveer and Adil said that even though Sehwag's father has died just before he was to leave for Australia; he did not let the tragedy affect his game.

"His father expired just before the Australia tour but he had to go. So he is a big player and he is the only triple centurion in India" Rajveer stated.

"Happiness and sorrow are always there in life. In Sehwag's case his father died and then his son was born seven days later. So he has seen a lot of ups and down in those seven days. Likewise in cricketing life also there has been a lot of ups and downs. But we always told him that all these are a part of life and you should carry on with your game. God willing every thing will be all right. Even the god helps the brave," Adil added philosophically.

CNN-IBN Sport Editor Gaurav Kalra attributed Sehwag's success to his simple approach towards the game.

"One of the striking things about Virender Sehwag is what you see is what you get. He is a very simple person. There is no complication and he brings that to the cricket field. He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve too much but when he talks, he talks absolutely straight to you. If he is going to give you an interview, he is going to say yes to you the first time that you ask him. If he is not going to give you an interview, he is going to say no straightaway. No amount of negotiations work with Sehwag. That simplicity and purity comes through his batting style as well. He said that he has batted the same way since he started playing cricket and sees no reason to change. So the way he batted for his school, is the same way he bats against South Africa in Chennai or against Pakistan in Multan. The results are for all to see," Kalra said.

Kalra also said that Sehwag could now be undoubtedly called an all-time great of Indian cricket.

"Sehwag looked at Australia as a huge opportunity for himself because he had been thrown a lifeline. He wasn't a part of the team that had been selected originally and only got in because Gambhir had a shoulder injury. Whenever a cricketer of Sehwag's kind is thrown a lifeline, he thinks that I have to now grab it with both hands and he did exactly that. He was not in the playing XI for the first two Test matches and the fact that he can comeback and get runs at Perth and then get runs in Adelaide and as a result cement his place again. Today, I think Sehwag had made one important transformation. He has gone from potentially all-time great to an all-time great. If Sehwag's career ends tomorrow you would still call Virender Sehwag as one of India's all-time great batsman and that's the metamorphosis that has happened today," he said.

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Former India skipper Krishnamachari Srikkanth had predicted after the second days' play that if Sehwag reached his 100, he would go onto score a triple hundred. And he was very happy to see his prediction come true.

"Sehwag is a guy who doesn't throw his wicket away. He goes for big hundreds. His last 10 hundreds have all been beyond 150. In his last hundred at Adelaide he scored 151 runs. That's what I like about him. As Gaurav said Sehwag makes things very simple. He is not a complicated player. He doesn't hang around. He himself says that if the ball is to be hit, it has to be hit. On a beauty of a wicket like this where the ball is coming on very well, Sehwag's timing is too good. What I like about his batting is because he plays the ball late, he gets quick runs," Srikkanth explained.

When Sehwag was out of the team and struggling to score runs many critics wanted him to change his approach towards his batting.

Anjum said Sehwag has his own style and his two triple centuries have shown that despite the lack of copybook technique, Sehwag has all the qualities required to score runs

"I think it is the style with which Virender Sehwag bats. For Sehwag 'you win some, you lose some' strategy applies. It's not easy to change the style of a batsman although when you don't score runs, everybody asks you to go back to the basics. Basics are perceived to be the exact description of how a particular shot has to be played. If you don't play it according to the basics, that means that technically you are doing something wrong. So then you start searching for answers. But Sehwag has his own technique and his own style. Today he has scored a triple century and now nobody is going to talk of basics. But if you see the shots that he has played, they are some exceptionally handled cover drives especially to the left-arm spinner. There have been delicate nudges and pushes to the off-side and on-side. The way the strokes that he has played, nowhere show that he is not technically correct. So it is just a style, the power, the entire concentration of his, the entire motive to go out there and prove himself has taken him to score these many runs. I won't be surprised if adds one more century to this," Anjum said.

Kalra also added that since Sehwag didn't worry much about the records, he could bat more freely

"It is incredible because of the simplicity that Srikkanth also referred to. He doesn't worry about the numbers but the reason why Sehwag is a cricketer who cannot be easily replicated is because he defies logic in every sense of the word. So when selectors gamble on him and pick him and you have to give credit to Dilip Vengsarkar and his team for the fact that they picked him for the Australia tour as the logical choice should have been Aakash Chopra who was getting runs in domestic cricket. Sehwag was failing. They picked him because Sehwag can play an innings like this which result in what one sees at the end of Day III. South Africa have 540 on the board but are in a situation from where they can lose the Test match. That happened because a guy like Sehwag can get a triple hundred at better than run-a-ball. That's what Sehwag brings to the team. That's why I believe Sehwag should be among the first two or three guys penciled in for all forms of Indian cricket. He can fail in One-Day cricket time after time but you have got to stick with him because there will be two days - World Cup semis and World Cup final - and Sehwag will win it for you," Kalra commented.

Srikkanth hoped that Sehwag would go on to smash Lara world record of 400 runs in a Test innings.

"It is just the first half-an-hour. If Sehwag survives that, I am sure he will get to 400. He can play a long innings and he has proved that to the whole world. The first half-an-hour is very crucial," the former India skipper said.

"Yes that's one and secondly he has got a lot of confidence. That is something fantastic about him. Today he got to hundred with a four. At Multan he hit a six to reach his triple hundred. I wouldn't dare do it. Nobody in the world would do it. Everybody will go for a single. But this guy not bothered about it and he plays the reverse sweep at will. That is something fantastic. That's the kind of confidence he has in himself," Srikkanth concluded acknowledging that nervous 90s do not exist for Sehwag.

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