Fearless Sehwag aims to get India off to good start

Updated: Feb 08, 2011, 09:47 AM IST

New Delhi: Flawless hand-eye coordination and a simple batting philosophy where half-measures have no place allow Virender Sehwag to compensate for other shortcomings and make himself invaluable to India.

Footwork is not his greatest strength, some of the shots he routinely unfurls -- such as the upper cut -- are unconventional and his single-minded approach to tearing apart every bowling unit often renders him vulnerable.

India, though, will rely on the 32-year-old opener, who is back in action after a shoulder injury, at the World Cup which starts this month.

"He is so devastating," West Indies great Viv Richards, whose swagger was enough to unnerve many a gritty bowler, said of Sehwag during a recent visit to Delhi.

"India need him badly. I admire him. This guy is totally fearless when it comes to batsmanship."

Sehwag once said that, apart from Australian Glenn McGrath and Sri Lanka`s Muttiah Muralitharan, he had not encountered a bowler whom he could not hit for a boundary at will.

It would have sounded like bravado had anyone else uttered those words but not Sehwag, an original on and off the field who seems to have found a way to defy fame and all that accompanies it to remain down to earth.

With a game tailor-made for the shorter format, Sehwag`s modest one-day average (34.64) -- considerably less than the 53.43 he boasts in tests -- is an anomaly.

Lightning Pace

The World Cup in the sub-continent provides a golden opportunity to make amends and no one would be happier than his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who knows how crucial the opener is to the team`s success.

Much will depend on the kind of start Sehwag can give to his team, partnering Sachin Tendulkar at the top.

What makes Sehwag such an impact player is not just the runs he scores but also the lightning pace at which he scores them.

Asking the run rate is almost irrelevant when Sehwag is on the crease and it does not take him long to change the complexion of a match, something evident from his strike rate of 103.27.

More often than not, it is Sehwag who lays the foundation for a big total or a successful chase with the kind of batting that makes him arguably the most devastating batsman in contemporary cricket.

A genuine match-winner with a penchant for reaching batting milestones with a six, Sehwag is also more than handy with his gentle off-spinners, as his 92 scalps from 228 ODIs would vouch.

A safe pair of hands in the slip, Sehwag`s presence among the close-in fielders is reassuring for his bowling colleagues.

Bureau Report