Virender Sehwag, one of the most explosive and aggressive batsman that the cricketing world has ever seen, turned 39 on Friday. It is only fitting that his birthday falls in-and-around Diwali for like the bursting of crackers, his innings were just that – bursting with runs and boundaries. Sehwag played in all formats of the sport and led the country forward on the field. Off the field, he was rewarded for his thumping knocks by being nominated for the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 2008 and then becoming the first player to retain the award in 2009. After letting his bat do the talking for 14 years, he has become a strong voice of reason and opinion on Twitter on variety of issues. He also applied for the India coach’s job to replace Anil Kumble before Ravi Shastri was appointed into the role.
During his playing days, Sehwag achieved notoriety for his swashbuckling style – be it when he faced the first ball or approached a milestone. Just ask Pakistan or Saqlain Mushtaq, in particular, as he brought up his maiden triple century and first by any Indian batsman at Multan in 2004. While batting on 295, Sehwag smashed Saqlain for a six to leave everyone awestruck. With that, he had become the first batsman to reach 300 with a six. He finished with 309 runs and earned himself the nickname ‘Sultan of Multan’ for his knock. It must be pointed out here that Sehwag had tried reaching his maiden double century, against Australia, just four innings prior with a six but was dismissed for 195. Once bitten, never shy is something that applies to Sehwag!
He topped his 309 runs four years later against South Africa when he scored 319 runs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. With his second triple century, he joined Don Bradman and Brian Lara with most triple tons. Later Chris Gayle, too, would reach the record.
Another record that sets Sehwag apart from the rest is, then, quickest scores in limited over matches. He became the fastest ODI centurion for India in 2009 and second fastest ODI double centurion overall in 2011. By taking 60 balls to complete his hundred against New Zealand at Hamilton in 2009, Sehwag went past Mohammad Azharuddin’s record of fastest century by an Indian which had been established in 1988 and taken 62 balls. Current captain Virat Kohli broke Sehwag’s record in 2013 when he took just 52 balls to reach the figure in Australia.
Of the six batsmen in the world to have hit a double century in ODIs, Sehwag’s name appears third in the list. With his 219 runs against the West Indies in 2011, scored in just 149 balls, Sehwag once again showed what he can do with the bat. His double century, however, took just 140 balls for the second fastest double ton. No biggie for Viru!
Sehwag played his final Test and ODI game in 2013. He retired from all cricket in 2015 when he bid adieu from the Indian Premier League where he represented Kings XI Punjab in his final season.