The co-author of this blog once famously stated in an economics forum that India’s greatest asset was Virender Sehwag. He meant it to be a joke but all he heard were a few chuckles in the conference hall. I remember him mentioning this story to me and then us vehemently criticising economists for their lack of a sense of humor. I still use that story to break awkward silences amongst cricket loving strangers and insult hauty economists. Today I would like to make an apology to them as I was wrong. Those (f – word) economists did not laugh because they knew that what my friend said was actually a fact, it has nothing to do with their sense of humor. India’s greatest asset is Virender Sehwag.
As we strive to make our lives complicated, Viru swims in the sea of simplicity with a bat in his right hand, and as he swims he would still manage to hit that wretched half-volley over extra cover for a six. Such is his genius. I still wonder why haven’t temples been named after him after his divine 206 in Galle. In Galle, the Indian team seemed like a bunch falling feeble Pandavas while Viru rode on Krishna’s chariot. Indestructable, invincible and genius. It also explains his lack of footwork, as he won’t be needing that if he rides on a chariot.
A good innings by Sehwag brings about the same emotions as an inspiring novel or an engaging movie. It keeps you in awe for a long period till you start seeing the artistic beauty of it all. Then you fall in love with it. He inspires the same in his opponents, a rare quality. When he was scoring his triple against South Africa, I saw the many faces of Graeme Smith. He was pissed about dropping Sehwag in the beginning and then he became Mr. Focus where he tried every tactic in his book to get Viru out and ultimately he became a happy spectator, smiling recklessly at Viru’s genius even though he knew that he would lose the Test.
His love affair with the boundary is the most intense relationship I have seen in my life. It is one of those passionate romances all of us crave for and Romeo died for. It has an abundance of love but also a lot of charming hate in it. He likes to kiss the boundary rope but also looks through it when he fiercely uppercuts the short and wide ball for six. He spends quality time with it by hitting a lot of Fours but when he misses it too much, he hits them consecutively. Umar Gul was once a victim of Viru’s extreme yearning for the boundary and gave 20 runs in an over. And while Umar Gul wept at the end of the carnage, I was simply jealous. If I was the boundary rope, I would have wrapped myself around Sehwag by now. But the boundary rope is a better lover as it knows that distance makes the heart grow fonder.
I am a happy person today. I am happy that he has done what everyone thought he would do someday. And I wish he does it again, and again and again and again. Not because he will have a career average of 200 after 200 innings, but the cricket world needs him to bat like he does to make them realise that it is not true that a genius knows no boundaries. Sehwag only knows boundaries and he knows them very well. It is the only thing he knows after Maa ka Doodh and Tandoori Chicken.
I wish that today I was Sehwag’s mom or his brother or sister or best friend or Gautam Gambhir or the glove on his right hand. I wish I was everyone who met Sehwag today. And obviously I have thought of what I would say to him. After shaking his hand, hugging him and shedding a tear I would tell him, in a very heavy voice, I would repeat a beautiful truth in my head and tell him the co-author’s story and then blush on the punchline – “Viru, You are India’s greatest asset”.