Soon after he was sacked, Virender Sehwag turned up at Jamia to witness a university game and was greeted with cheers. They were accepted with a casual wave by a smiling Sehwag but the sympathy was firmly rejected. "Koi baat nahin," he said, "yeh to pehle bhi hua hai."
Such outward calm, even in a moment of extreme adversity, is extraordinary. But then, Sehwag is a champion who has won, and set up, more wins for India than anyone else. He redefined opening batting in Test cricket, yanking it out of a defensive mould by scoring at a rate considered hot even by 20-over standards. Sehwag did this by taking risks and challenging conventional methods - and still averaging more than risk-averse batsmen.
Sehwag's external aggression and batting savagery contrast starkly with his supreme inner calm. He is unflappable, in complete control of himself. This composure reflects in his batting style where he is destructive without trying to actually smash the ball. Sehwag will play the most audacious shot, for instance, his signature slashed square cut over point, yet display zero emotion.
Shutting out noise
Bowlers have tried breaching his focus by screaming abuses in his ear but the response is to ignore the chatter, shut out distraction and continue humming his favourite Kishore Kumar number. Harassed bowlers have now realised sledging is futile, Sehwag will not get disturbed, and instead might extract a serious price for their impudence.
Drama is not part of Sehwag's cricket DNA, in the field he is never stirred or shaken. And while others go over the top with celebrations, mouthing obscenities after scoring a hundred, Sehwag just raises his bat and looks up towards the heavens in gratitude.
Till now, his career has been marked by dignity and grace and though his recent numbers are not compelling, there is no denying where he sits in the context of Indian cricket.
The writer is a Delhi Daredevils official
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.