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Virender Sehwag vs Matthew Hayden: A Statistical Comparison

A statistical attempt to compare the immeasurable impact Hayden and Sehwag had on the game across all the formats.

Both were equally  feared by the bowlers all around the world

These two men inspired an entire generation of players by means of their brilliance and fearlessness at the top of the order. As an opening batsmen, while Virender Sehwag and Matthew Hayden come across as similar batsmen in terms of their mindset, their roles in the team and their impact on match situations will be an ideal point of reference to start with. 

For a generation of cricket fans who grew up soaking in the rivalry of India and Pakistan, the addition of Australia as a fierce competitor was a grand endowment. While everybody seems to relish a good mix of attack and aggression, here are two men who were synonyms of attacking batsmanship and a never-say-die attitude.

Here is a take on two legends through their numbers and achievements.

Test Cricket: The Ultimate Test

While a lot has been said about the future of Test cricket in an era where the attention span of the common man is fast dwindling, Test cricket is trying to reinvent itself. Both Sehwag and Hayden were periodically shadowed by their more fancied teammates but have nevertheless come up with superlative knocks that have stood the tests of time.

The Nawab of Najafgarh, as he is fondly remembered as a result of his gully cricket exploits made his Test debut against South Africa at Bloemfontein in 2003. Many felt that Sehwag resembled Sachin Tendulkar in terms of looks and batting technique during his early days.

As fate would have it, Sehwag and Tendulkar were India’s centurions in the first innings. Batting in the middle order, Sehwag scored an exceptional 105 from 173 balls in the first innings and a 36-ball 31 in the second innings.Though India lost the match, Sehwag’s knock was a sign of things to come.

On the other hand, Matthew Hayden had started his career almost a decade earlier against the same opponents when South Africa toured Australia in 1994. Having lost the toss, Australia was asked to field. In contrast to Sehwag’s brilliant flourish Hayden opened the innings and had a poor outing with scores of 15 and 5 in his debut match. Despite this initial hiccup, Hayden would go on to construct some of the most destructive innings that the world has seen.

Both Sehwag’s and Hayden’s Test careers panned out similarly in terms of numbers which further reiterates the fact that these two modern legends approached the game in very similar ways. Here is a proof of it in numbers.

Batsman Matches Innings Runs Average Strike Rate Best 100s 50s
Virender Sehwag 104 180 8586 49.34 82.23 319 23 32
Matthew Hayden 103 184 8625 50.73 60.10 380 29 30

As an opening batsman, Sehwag has scored consistently both at home and outside the sub-continent and has a comparatively higher strike rate than Hayden. But, Hayden pips Sehwag when it comes to converting his knocks to big scores.Though Sehwag is one among the only four batsmen to score two triple centuries, Hayden has a higher personal landmark.

2009-10 saw Sehwag’s zenith when he scored 934 runs from 7 matches at an average of 93.40 which included 4 centuries. Hayden’s performance peaked in the 2005-06 season when he scored 1287 runs from 12 matches including 5 centuries at an average of 58.50 runs.

When it comes to impact, Sehwag has contributed eight centuries in a winning cause, while Hayden surges ahead with 23 centuries in a winning cause.

ODIs

Both Sehwag and Hayden have been epitomes in taking the attack to the cleaners. Their attacking style, ability to dominate bowlers and to score at will during the power-play made them an automatic choice for any limited over’s game.

For their part, both the openers seem to have understood the collective responsibility that they had to carry in providing a good start to their team. Sehwag made his debut at Mohali against arch-rivals Pakistan in 1999. Starting as a middle-order batsman, he was trapped leg before by Shoaib Akthar for 1.

Hayden debuted against England at Manchester in 1993 and scored a 55-ball 29 as an opener. Despite starting out ordinarily, both of them went on to play some quality innings and their numbers are reflective of this.

Batsman Matches Innings Runs Average Best Strike Rate  100s 50s
Virender Sehwag 251 245 8273 35.05 219 104.33 15 38
Matthew Hayden 161 155 6133 43.80 181* 78.96 10 36

Sehwag’s numbers speak volumes of his ability and performance. He is one of the few batsmen to score a double century in ODI cricket and incidentally surpassed Tendulkar to record the highest individual score which was later surpassed by Rohit Sharma. 

The first memory of Sehwag will forever be those piercing cuts through the infield for a first ball 4. He was blessed with amazing hand-eye coordination and was an extremely instinctive player. He scored at will during the 2002-03 season when he amassed 1098 runs from 30 matches which comprised of 4 centuries.

While Hayden’s numbers don't match up with Sehwag’s when it comes to ODIs, he was extremely consistent and was the anchor of the all-encompassing Aussie team dominated the world cricket.

He was the team’s savior and superman, and counter attacked every opposition with his calculated onslaughts during the power-play. His best season was 2006-07 when he scored 1368 runs from 26 matches at an average of 62.18. He scored 5 centuries during that period.

While 14 of Sehwag’s centuries came in winning causes, Hayden took Australia past the line eight times with a century knock. Though Sehwag edges past Hayden in terms of numbers, Hayden has provided many good starts for Australia during their period of domination and has always been a tough competitor.

T20s

This is one format that suited both Sehwag’s and Hayden’s style of play. It gave them the opportunity to flex their arms and send a few into the stands.

While Sehwag played a crucial role in India winning the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup, Matthew Hayden almost took Australia past the finishing line during the semi-final vs India.

Sehwag played his first T20 vs South Africa at Johannesburg in 2006 and scored 34 from 29 balls in a match which India won. Hayden played his first T20 vs England in 2005 at Southampton and scored just 6 runs from 4 balls.

Batsman Matches Innings Runs Average Strike Rate Best 100s 50s
Virender Sehwag 19 18 394 21.88 145.38 68 0 2
Matthew Hayden 9 9 308 51.33 143.92 73* 0 4

Though we never saw much of these two in International T20 fixtures, they nevertheless provided a lot of fireworks in their limited appearances. As far as numbers are concerned, Hayden blazes ahead of Sehwag in all departments, but the daredevil that Sehwag is, his presence outweighs his numbers.

Conclusion

Virender Sehwag and Matthew Hayden are batsmen beyond comparison and have contributed greatly in revamping the way cricket was viewed around the world. The two had similar personalities. Candid yet fierce, daring yet calculative, flourishing yet consistent.

While Sehwag carved a niche for himself through his minimalistic footwork and rapid scoring, Hayden impressed everyone with his power and patience. With Hayden already retired and Sehwag in the twilight of his career, one can definitely say that the game owes a lot to these giants. Period.

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