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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Highest Individual Score in ODIs - 219, Virender Sehwag

Anything was possible for Virender Sehwag. By the time he was out for 219, the highest individual score in ODIs, there were still 53.3 overs left to be bowled at Indore. But everyone knew the contest was over. Cricket is a team sport. But not when Virender Sehwag is in the mood and in torrent.

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Once Virender Sehwag's ODI career started poorly when he scored 1 against Pakistan in Mohali in April 1999 when he fell lbw to Shoaib Akhtar. His bowling performance was also ineffective and expensive, conceding 35 runs off 3 overs. He did not get another chance in the national team for 20 months.

and Now This was a Virender Sehwag, Viru special. Like the online smash hit, it instantly took India by storm. But there was no kolaveri, or murderous rage, on display. It was vintage kola-Viru - nonchalant execution, Sehwag style. His strokes were violent; his demeanor was almost child-like.

The stand-in India captain even joked with the Caribbeans. He seemed to be batting for pleasure, as if sharing a gift of the gods with lesser mortals. No surprise that despite being at the receiving end, they all shook hands with him when he departed. That included captain Darren Sammy, who had let slip the dolliest of chances when Virender Sehwag was on 170.

They knew they were privileged.

Last year, Ian Chappell likened Sehwag to Don Bradman for his ability to combine two difficult tasks: score rapidly and post mammoth scores. The astute Aussie may have a point.

Art of making it large

In Tests, the Delhi opener already has two triple tons to his name, both scored at hurtling pace. But this is the kind of defining ODI innings - 25 fours, seven sixes off 149 balls - the astute Aussie probably had in mind when penning those lines. In recent weeks, Sehwag seemed to have lost that quality of making it large.

His last dominator display had come against Bangladesh; a statement of intent 175 in the World Cup opener in February this year. With scores of 20, 26 and 0 in the three ODIs in the ongoing series, the Delhi opener had looked like a careless millionaire bent on squandering the abundances of riches at his disposal. On Thursday, he looked far more motivated than he ever appeared in recent weeks.

Would he have got to 250, the first ever in the game's history, if he had stayed on till the end? Who knows. Even in an age characterized by the death of memory, at least two of his shots will endure: One, an upper cut off paceman Ken Roach, guided over the wicket-keeper's head like directing a curious passerby. Second, a pulled six off Russell that smashed into the boundary boards. They were not just shots; they were knock-out blows.

Yet ODI was never really Sehwag's forte. He has scored more than 8,000 runs in the game's shorter format but his reputation primarily rests on his huge Test scores. Last month Graeme Pollock, the blessed South African southpaw whose talent was lost to the larger cricket world in the Apartheid era, had said, "Sehwag is the best player in the world today and certainly the most dangerous. He has got a triple hundred in a day. He has been largely responsible for turning Indian cricket around and set up Tests for bowlers to win."

His views, however, were different from those of former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar. Taking a dig at Virender Sehwag and his partner Gautam Gambhir, Vengsarkar had written in his column on Thursday, "No point in playing with those having problems motivating themselves." Hopefully, he is satisfied now.

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