Oct 22, 2015

765. Sehwag the dark knight of the 2011 world cup

Sachin Tendulkar is my favorite cricketer of all time. Sehwag is my second favorite cricketer. I have dedicated two blog posts for Sachin in this blog. When I came to know of Sehwag's retirement, I felt sad because I personally feel that this mad hitting opener still has lot of batting fuel left in him.

The 2011 world cup is known for Sachin's farewell gift by the Indian team, Guru Gary's love affair with the India, Dhoni's last ball six, Yuvraj's man of the series award. Among all the great performances there was this one guy who was silently responsible for India becoming a power machine in that tournament and that one man is none other than the Nawab of Najafgarh -Virender Sehwag.

I watched all the matches India played in that tournament; all the matches are still fresh in my memory. Sehwag sent chills down the spines of all the teams with the manner in which he unsettled the opposition bowlers. This blog post captures India's performance against all the teams in that world cup and also the reason why I feel that Sehwag made a huge contribution for India's world cup win.

Sehwag raises his bat after
scoring a century against Bangladesh
Match 1: India vs Bangladesh

The first match of the 2011 world cup was played between India and Bangladesh. The match was played in Dhaka. The Bangladesh team had the crowd backing them. The Bangladeshi captain won the toss and elected to field. Sachin and Sehwag walked in and as usual Sehwag took the strike.

Shafiul Islam ran up to bowl the first ball. The crowd backed him with a thunderous roar. In came the ball at 145 kmph. Sehwag moved back and slapped the ball through the cover. The first ball of the world cup was dispatched to the boundary in no time; there was pin drop silence in the ground. That was Sehwag's way of silencing the crowd.

He reached his 50 with a towering six down long on and reached his 100 of 94 balls. Then the butcher used his bat as a butcher knife and ravaged the Bangla bowlers and reached 175 of 140 balls. He equaled Kapil Dev's score of 175 in that match.

He singlehandedly delivered a death blow to the Bangladeshis and India moved on to play the remaining matches riding on the thunderous opening provided by Sehwag in the very first match

Match 2: India vs England


India faced England in their second league match. It was a high scoring match which ended in a tie. Both the teams scored 338. India was lucky not to lose that match. Strauss literally took the match away from the Indians with a calculated chase. India batted first and with a magnificent century by Sachin, posted 338 on the board.
Sehwag unleashing a cover drive against England
But that huge total was possible because of the launchpad provided by Sehwag in the first 8 overs. When Sehwag got out in the 8th over of the Indian innings, Indian scoreboard read 46 for 1. Sachin was batting at 10 of 21 balls. Sehwag hit 6 bullet fours to reach 35 of 26 balls. The match is now known for the centuries and the manner in which it ended. Very few realize that such a huge score was possible because of the tempo set by the Delhi Dynamite-  Viru.

Match 3: India vs Ireland


India's score in the first two matches were 370 and 338. The rest of the teams plotted plans to slow down India in the first few overs. In the third match, India faced Ireland.

Sehwag gets out against Ireland

Ireland elected to bat first and scored just 207 runs on the board. When India came to bat, Sehwag hit the first ball he faced for a four. In all the matches in the tournament, he opened his account with a four.

He was out in the very next over for a paltry score of 5. India finally huffed and puffed and crawled over 207 with much difficulty.

Match 4 : India vs Holland


India played Holland in their 4th match of the tournament. With two better oppositions (Bangladesh and England) India had the opportunity to bat first and put huge scores on the board. But with teams like Ireland and Holland, India had to chase. The Dutch were bowled out for 189. The Indian's chased this total with ease.

Sehwag in a murderous mood against the Dutch
Sehwag got India off to yet another flyer by hitting the first ball for a four. He scored a breezy 39 of 26 balls that included 5 fours and two towering sixes. By this time the Indian fans started to believe that Sehwag will score the first ball he faces for a four.


Match 5: India vs South Africa

Sehwag Slaps Steyn for a four
Then India played against the South Africans. India scored 296 and the South Africans chased down the total in the last over.

The Indians could have put a total of 400 plus on the board after a 142 run opening stand by Sehwag and Sachin.

Sachin went on to score a century with Sehwag thrashing a 66 ball 73. From 267 for 2, India just collapsed to 296 all out.

For the fifth match in a row, Sehwag opened his account with a 4; that too of the best bowler in the world Steyn.

Steyn took 5 wickets in that match; but Sehwag toyed with him in the first few overs.

India's opening wicket partnership in that tournament was one of the last 100 plus opening wicket partnership between Sehwag and Sachin.


Match 6: India vs West Indies

India defeated the West Indians in their last league encounter. Sehwag did not play that match because of a knee injury. India had three more matches in the tournament.

Quarter finals: India vs Australia
A cross over picture of Sachin and Sehwag!

In the quarterfinals India played against the mighty Australians. The Aussies scored 260 batting first with Punter scoring a hundred. Bret Lee ran up to bowl the first over when Indians began the chase. Lee bowled a couple of 145 kmph deliveries and beat Sehwag. The tension built around the stadium and when Lee bowled the 3rd ball of that over at around 150 kmph, little did he think that it would be bludgeoned to the boundary with the ball reaching the fence in less than 2 seconds. The cameras could not capture the speed at which Sehwag hit that ball. He did not score much in that match; but for the 6th time in a row, Sehwag had opened his account with a boundary.


Semi finals: India vs Pakistan

No foot movement; but ball goes for 4
That brings us to the much awaited match of the tournament; the semi finals against the Pakistanis. India batted first. Umar Gul bowled the first over with Sehwag on strike. The first two balls were a little wider and Sehwag let go of one of those balls.

The third ball was bowled at a faster pace and Sehwag stayed like a statue with no foot movement;brought his bat down like Thor wielding his hammer and connected the ball. The ball raced to the boundary like a bullet. He scored 38 runs from 25 balls that included 9 fours. In other words 36 of those 38 runs were through 4s.

It was a match in which he cemented his feet and smashed the balls to all corners of the ground. Commentators always criticized his lack of foot movement and his poor technique. But Sehwag always silenced them by letting his bat do the talking. It was always a joy to watch him bat. The confidence he gave to the entire country when he was at the crease is something that only an Indian fan can relate to.

The finals: India vs SriLanka

That is some sort of record for opening the score with a four for 7 consecutive times in any tournament, which was never ever set by any other batsman in the world. I don't think someone will ever beat that record in future. Sehwag fell for a duck in the finals against SriLankans; but who cares!!! Because the rest of the team mates did the trick in that final and won the world cup for India. The tournament was opened by Sehwag with a four and closed by Dhoni with a six.

If we think about that world cup, people talk about Yuvraj Singh's man of the series performance, Sachin's centuries and Dhoni's captaincy and his last ball six to finish the tournament in style. We would not be talking about any of these things, if Sehwag had not given them an opportunity like that with a blistering opening act he gave them throughout the tournament.

We all remember this picture. Did you notice the dark knight taking the victory lap in one corner? He was also playing in his last world cup. He was never the center of attraction; but he was the corner stone and the greatest entertainer India has ever produced in cricket
He demoralized the opposition bowlers, emotionally toyed with the fielders by beating them with fours, totally unsettling their strategy and gave a wonderful cushion for the rest of the Indian batsmen to play on. In any street fight or even in wars between countries, the side that delivers the first blow has a high chance of winning the fight/ war, because if that blow is a powerful one, it will totally unsettle the opposition and the remaining blows are just customary ones to finish them off. Team India had one such soldier who always delivered the first blow. Now that person has retired from the game.

Today we have talented openers like Rohit Sharma, Rahane, Dhawan who can score big hundreds; but I have not seen anyone who can stand like a rock and totally unsettle the opposition with his bat like the Nawab of Najafgarh - Viru "Sehwag".

A note to Sehwag:

I will miss you Sehwag and I am sure the entire Indian fans and cricket lovers around the world will miss your simple and stupid batting.

- Chronicwriter

Images collection : http://www.espncricinfo.com/
Research collection : From World cup memories of watching it on TV,  Score confirmation from Cricinfo

3 comments:

  1. I felt like watching the world cup. you have written it so well and Virendra Sehwag must see this blog and he will be happy

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wish Sehwag gets a chance to see this bro :)

    So beautifully put! Gets to the pit of my stomach :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with the general sentiment and tone of the post, but not with the assessment - I agree it is just your personal few - that he had some "batting fuel left in him." Even in the IPL, barring one hundred (was it the last season or the one before), Viru has just looked like a shadow of his former self. In the Ranji Trophy, he currently plays for Haryana, and apart from one significant score, he has not done much.

    A great contributor to world cricket and an opener who changed the attitude of opening batsmen even more than Hayden and Gilchrist, he will be surely missed. However, his retirement was due for a while before he announced it.

    ReplyDelete

Did you smile? Do let me know about your views of this post. Please read the post before commenting