Virender Sehwag is largely remembered for his fearless and belligerent batting. However, there were times when he contributed with his more than useful off-spin. As Sehwag turns a year older, Nishad Pai Vaidya picks five memorable spells delivered by the dashing batsman.
Castling Adam Gilchrist – 2 for 24 vs Australia, 3rd Test at Perth, 2008
This is undoubtedly Sehwag’s most iconic contribution with the ball for India as he played he part in the victory at Perth. This win came in the backdrop of the Monkeygate scandal, with the Indian team keen to prove a point. They set the hosts 413 in the fourth innings and at 227 for five, Australia held on to hope as Adam Gilchrist was no stranger to such a scenario. Anil Kumble introduced Sehwag’s off-breaks as a change in play. Sehwag pitched one outside off stump and invited Gilchrist to attempt the sweep. The Aussie wicketkeeper missed the ball as it went around his legs and hit the stumps. India got the vital breakthrough and Sehwag contributed further by dismissing Brett Lee as India went on to wrap up a famous win.
Five wickets at the home ground – 5 for 104 vs Australia, 3rd Test at Delhi, 2008
In a high-scoring Test match, the bowlers had to toil to get anything out of the Delhi wicket. On his home ground, Virender Sehwag produced a spell to remember as he managed to turn the ball and fox the Australian batsmen. What makes this spell even more remarkable was the batsmen he dismissed — Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson and Cameron White — all with conventional off-spin. The ball that dismissed Ponting stood out as it was full and outside off, inviting the batsman to drive. Ponting went for it and missed as the ball turned in and hit the stumps. Hussey was bowled by one that beat his defence with turn.
Strangling the South African batsmen – 3 for 25 vs South Africa, ICC Champions Trophy 2002 semi-final at Colombo
Chasing 262 for a spot in the ICC Champions Trophy final, South Africa were in command with Herschelle Gibbs’ century and Jacques Kallis’ calming presence. Gibbs retired hurt as the conditions got to him but South Africa were in firm command at 192 for one in 37 overs. It should have been an easy chase, but India turned things around at the death. Yuvraj Singh took a blinder off Harbhajan Singh to dismiss Jonty Rhodes and the Indians regained their confidence. With 10 overs to go, India introduced Sehwag’s off-spin and he kept it tight in tough conditions, even getting the wicket of Mark Boucher. The bowlers at the other end also did their job, which left South Africa with 21 to get off the last over. Sehwag was entrusted with the job but Kallis hit the first ball for a huge six. However, that was the last cheer for South Africa as Kallis fell next ball and Sehwag wrapped things up by getting the dangerous Lance Klusener off the last ball. India went through to the final and Sehwag picked up the Man of the Match, having scored 59 earlier in the day.
Announcing his arrival – 3 for 59 vs Australia, 1st ODI at Bengaluru, 2001
The miraculous Test series win had given India a shot in the arm as they took on the world champions in the One-Day International (ODI) series that followed. Playing only his fourth game for India, Sehwag had a point to prove and did his bit with the bat. He walked in at 122 for one and hit his maiden fifty in typical attacking fashion to announce himself to the world. He wasn’t done there as he came good with the ball to help India defend 315. Matthew Hayden carried his form into the shorter format and was looking dangerous on 99 when Sehwag dismissed him leg-before. Damien Martyn followed soon after as he was caught behind. Australia held on to hope with Steve Waugh and Gilchrist in the middle but Sehwag had the former dismissed to help India take firm control.
Running through Bangladesh – 4 for 6 vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup 2010, Dambulla
Not a spell many remember as it came in a game India were expected to win. Bangladesh were struggling at 155 for five and hoping for a competitive total with Mushfiqur Rahim in the middle. Sehwag was brought into the attack and he ensured that there was no Bangladeshi revival by dismissing him. When the 35th over commenced, Bangladesh were 167 for seven and Sehwag took the last three wickets for no further addition to the score. His spell of four for six is his best in ODIs.