Destined for glory as a youngster

New Delhi, Nov. 23 -- Hindustan Times looks back at some of the innings that marked out young Virender Sehwag from others.

Power-packed

He first made impact at the Maharaja Agrasen Society tournament in the 90s. Recalls veteran scorer, NK Lakhotia, "I would supply two boxes of balls to each venue, one for each innings. Once Viru was playing at Yamuna complex, and hit so hard all the balls were lost. The officials opened the second box but he hit them out too. They phoned me but I told them it would be too late to supply from Kotla and asked them to buy. He hit out some from the fresh stock too."

Eagle-eyed

At a Ranji match in Rohtak against Haryana, Delhi were struggling on a turning track. After a few wickets fell, Sehwag came out to bat against left-arm spinner Pradeep Jain & off-spinner Pankaj Thakur, who were both turning the ball square. Throughout the knock, Sehwag would whack the ball as it pitched, not allowing it to turn. Dilip Vengsarkar, present there as a selector, was impressed. He later spoke to Bishan Bedi about 'the young kid who was whacking everything'.

Natural talent

His coach, AN Sharma, recalls the 1995 school nationals, four years before his India debut.

"Delhi were 60-odd for four chasing 240 against UP. The first shot he hit was over point for six, and UP got demoralised. Viru finished off the 40-over game in 20-22 overs. Former India opener Syed Mushtaq Ali, himself an attacking batsman, was very impressed. Many coaches tell their wards to play safe. I always told him, 'if you can hit it big, go for it'.

Fearless

Former Delhi teammate Amit Bhandari recalls, "There were people who had questioned his selection for the U-19 World Cup in South Africa in 1998 saying he'll struggle against faster bowlers. In our very first match against the hosts at Johannesburg, we were struggling at 21/3. Viru walked in and played a quickfire knock, pushing our score to well over 100. K Srikkanth was very impressed, he predicted that Sehwag will play for India very soon."

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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