The opener has now scored 23 centuries in 99 Test matches
Not long ago Australian Michael Hussey made a telling observation that he would never consider that Virender Sehwag is out of form. Such has been the monumental reputation the 34-year-old Indian opener has built in the last 11 years after he scored a century on debut against South Africa at Bloemfontein.
It took another eight innings over a period of 10 months to notch up his second Test century and that was a 106 against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in August 2002 after Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright felt that such a wonderful talent in Sehwag could not be wasted in the bench and dressing room and asked him to open the innings with Wasim Jaffer at Lord’s. He made 84 and then the century at Trent Bridge against Mathew Hoggard, Dominic Cork, Steve Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and Craig White.
Sehwag has not been a terrific success against England; playing 13 Test matches (before Thursday’s Test) and aggregating a mere 568 at 27.05 with one century and four half-centuries. Chennaites would remember his brilliant 83 in December 2008 when India made 387 to win the Test match by six wickets.
The discerning and layman doubted his ability to score the big runs especially after a lacklustre showing against New Zealand at Hyderabad and Bangalore, but Sehwag firmly put away all anxiety with a sterling knock against Alastair Cook’s England at the Sardar Patel Gujarat stadium on Thursday. The century partnership with Gautam Gambhir (the 11th between them) also came after 23 months.
Sehwag has now scored 23 centuries in 99 Test matches, the second consecutive one at this venue. He had made 173 (his 22nd) against New Zealand in November 2010.
Meanwhile, Sehwag is pleased that he scored his 23rd Test century at the right time. “Every hundred is important. We are now in a good position; hopefully we will build on it and bowl well. The wicket is on the slower side. They set a field with everybody on the line, especially deep point and deep square leg, so it’s not easy to hit the boundaries. After reaching 50 I relaxed, got a little more confident and played a few shots.
“I have to thank Dhananjay (the team’s video analyst). He gave me the footage of my last 10 hundreds and I was watching those videos till 11 p.m. yesterday. And I realised that if I play the new ball a bit more cautiously I would reach 100. It’s good for me and I can give the team a good start. I did that today. I hit 15 in a Bresnan over and got more confident.”
Indians who have scored centuries against England (36 batsmen, 82 centuries): Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar (7 each), Mohammad Azharuddin (6), Dilip Vengsarkar (5), Gundappa Viswanath, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar (4 each), Sourav Ganguly, Polly Umrigar, Nawab of Pataudi, Vijay Merchant, Vijay Manjrekar (3 each), Kapil Dev, Budhi Kunderan, Vijay Hazare, Pankaj Roy, M.L. Jaisimha and Virender Sehwag (2 each), Deep Dasgupta, Vinod Kambli, Yashpal Sharma, Bapu Nadkarni, Ajit Agarkar, Farokh Engineer, Wasim Jaffer, Gautam Gambhir, Vinoo Mankad, Lala Amarnath, Sandeep Patil, Syed Kirmani, Hanumant Singh, Anil Kumble, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Mushtaq Ali, Abbas Ali Baig and Dattu Phadkar (1 each).