SK Flashback: Remembering Virender Sehwag's 195 at MCG - A display of unadulterated fearless batting
"The pitch was a little damp, and we decided we would adopt a defensive approach in the first hour ... we only started to play all our shots after lunch.”
Surprising as it may sound, these were the words of Virender Sehwag after he had scored 195 runs from 233 balls against Australia in the 2003 Boxing Day Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Now if this score was the result after an hour of defensive approach, I wonder what would have happened otherwise.
It was a classic Sehwag innings which many rate as one of the best ever innings played on the opening day of a Test match. Best or not, it definitely was something special.
A shaky start
The Boxing Day Test match was Sehwag’s 19th Test match and he had never crossed 150 before that innings. The innings itself had not started for Sehwag in a manner which he would have liked. In Brett Lee’s second over, he was hit on the back of his head. Tony Grieg who was the commentator on air said, “That would upset him”.
Soon after, Sehwag was well short of the crease owing to a horrible mix-up with his opening partner Aakash Chopra and survived a run out courtesy a miss by Adam Gilchrist. And then he took another blow, this time on the front of the head.
Unadulterated fearless batting on display
But contrary to what Tony Grieg and the others had thought, nothing had upset Sehwag, at least that’s what it seemed like. At 42-0, Sehwag hit a huge six of leg-spinner Stuart MacGill over the long-off boundary and there was no looking back after that. He reached his half-century with the help of a smashing square-cut off the bowling of Lee.
He took MacGill for special treatment and in no time raced to 99. Yet again he hit a boundary, this time off his legs and reached the three-figure mark of 144 balls. It was the display of unadulterated fearless batting. He did not mind hitting against the leg-spinner MacGill.
When the Australian skipper Steve Waugh (who was playing his farewell series) came onto bowl in a bid to get the better of Sehwag, Sehwag hit him for a murderous six over long-off. With the Indian score at 248-1, he brought up his maiden 150 with a boundary.
“Doesn’t matter what is happening at the end, Sehwag is going to keep going”
Meanwhile, a lot was happening at the other end. India had slipped to 286 for the loss of 3 wickets when Sachin Tendulkar was out first ball, caught down the leg side off the bowling of Lee. And as Tony Grieg had said then, “Doesn’t matter what is happening at the end, Sehwag is going to keep going,” Sehwag kept on with his innings.
At 189, he hit Simon Katich’s full toss out of the park for yet another six. But the very next ball, against the run of play, he was caught in the deep trying to reach his double century with a six. It brought an end to a spectacular innings which later on made it to the list of 15 best tons scored in Australia since 2000.
One would have thought that he would have been disappointed at missing a double century, but with Sehwag you rarely get the expected. His response to the question of disappointment on missing the double hundred was, "Not at all. It was a loose ball, and it's in my nature to hit the loose balls.”
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor summed up Sehwag’s innings perfectly when he said, “An opener shouldn’t get 190 before tea on the first day. That’s just rude.”
It definitely would have seemed rude for Australian players on the field that day. But they made up well after Sehwag’s fall and in fact went on to win the match by 9 wickets riding on Ricky Ponting’s 257.
“You hardly ever analysed Sehwag’s innings, you just enjoyed them”
Although the Indians lost the match, Sehwag had given a trailer of what was to follow from his bat in the years to come. He went on to score two triple centuries and until recently (when Karun Nair scored a triple century against England) was the only Indian to have reached the 300 run mark.
13 years on, fans and pundits analyse that innings and suggest that Sehwag shouldn’t have played the shot which brought about his downfall. But as Harsha Bhogle had once said, “You hardly ever analysed Sehwag’s innings, you just enjoyed them”.
(Video Courtesy: robelinda2 YouTube Channel)Published 26 Dec 2016, 10:14 IST