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An Ode to the Destroyer

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Virender_Sehwag_India_cricket“The child is gone, the dream is gone. I've become comfortably numb.”

Part of the Pink Floyd song kept playing over and over my head as I heard Virender Sehwag had retired from international cricket. It was pretty much on the cards. It was just that I, like every other fan of his, was not ready to play this final card. Numbness, mind numbing numbness.

The last to enter the fabled ‘Five’ of the golden batting generation of India, Virender Sehwag was always the odd man out, the unorthodox genius. He was a precarious dagger who could slice open the opponent with one moment of calculated madness. The duration of his destruction could range from an hour, to a session, factually even a day. And yet, the whole of India relied on him, (not as much on Sachin) and very seldom has he disappointed.

There are very few things in the world that can be understood, that can be figured out, that can be solved. when it comes to Virender Sehwag and his approach towards cricket of 'see ball, hit ball', the weightage and the eventual execution of these four words that he has been carrying out for the last 14 years is pretty much impossible for anyone to explain. Some of the instructions from the coaching manual would be screamed out: ‘Look at your feet, move your feet to the line of the ball,’ ‘Don’t play it in the air, keep it along the ground!’ Sehwag defied the instructions, defied his coach, defied the coach’s logic and in some sense, he defied cricket in his own breath-taking manner.  

 

The one simple thing, as simple as his game but impossible to emulate, is the fact that he would never plan against the bowler. Sachin would play Kaneria differently to Warne; Dravid would set a different plan for Lee versus Steyn. But for Sehwag, he plans against the ball, not the bowler. Length, line and then the bowlers. That ingenious bit of maddening theory is what drives everyone nuts, on top of Sehwag’s consistent Test record at the top of the order.

It’s a known fact that Sehwag loves to hum Kishore Kumar songs while he’s casually scoring double centuries and triple tons. Here’s a version of what it would sound like in Viru’s head if he was singing ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd after walking to the crease.

( Pro tip – Read this while listening to the song)

Hello, hello, hello, is there anybody out there
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone to bowl?
Come on now
I hear you're feeling down. (Cause I’ve just hit you out of the session maybe?)
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again.
Relax, relax, relax.

I'll need some boundaries first.
Just the basic ones.
Can you show me where it hurts? (With a grin towards the giant scoreboard)

There is no single you are receding
A distant six is on the horizon.
You are only coming to the crease.
Your hands move but I can see what your swing is.

When I was a child, I had an itching,
My hands felt just like two, goons (Thanks to my famous hand-eye co-ordination)
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand

This is how I am.
My feet have become comfortably numb.

Even his retirement had Sehwag written all over him, like the first three balls of a Test match. Firstly, the press conference in Dubai (A wicket, but it’s been referred upstairs for over-stepping). Then the official retirement the following day (Umpire confirms it’s a no-ball so the batsman would be slightly wary in the next delivery). And then scoring a casually brilliant hundred for Haryana in the Ranji Trophy, the day after retiring (Walks down the track and effortlessly hits a six).

For everyone else, it seemed that the stars may not have aligned the sequence of events any better but heck, for Virender Sehwag, it was just another day in the office.

 


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