For 14 years, Virender Sehwag has set cold fear into the hearts of bowling attacks all over the world, culminating in Thursday’s brutal yet beautiful innings of 219 against the West Indies in Indore.
But if there is one thing Sehwag attacks with as much alacrity as a loose ball outside off stump, it is a microphone. This is a selection of some of Sehwag’s finest verbal hits.
1. “I’m not getting enough runs, but I’m playing my natural game and not thinking too much about it.” In December 2005 after leading India to a test win over Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad.
2. “I don’t think so! I have played better than many players who have played for India in the recent past. I have only one century while playing in the middle order as compared to nine as an opening batsman. By any standard, it’s a good performance.” In December 2005 when, on the back of a slump, Sehwag was asked if it would be better if he played in the middle order.
3. “If they give us bouncy and seaming tracks they will struggle against our attack because their batsmen are not technically sound.” While filling in as captain, shortly before the Pakistan tour in 2005-2006.
4. “Shoaib didn’t get a wicket and he hasn’t lived up to expectations. At least we got seven wickets, they haven’t got even one.” Comparing the two bowling attacks after the fourth day of the first test versus Pakistan in Lahore in January 2006.
5. “The world record really doesn’t matter. I didn’t know we were close to the record until I came back to the dressing room.” From the same press conference as the previous quote in Lahore. At the close of play Sehwag and Rahul Dravid had put on 403 for the first wicket, 10 short of the world record.
6. “The pitches in the subcontinent are traditionally the same, but if we have good weather for five days then we can get a result either way, which is good. Because we are not here to play drawn matches.” Before the second test against Pakistan in January 2006, on why he hoped for good weather.
7. “If I play down the order, then there is nobody who can open.” In April 2006 , before the sixth one-day international against England.
8. “I didn’t want to hit those fours. I kept telling Gautam that I wouldn’t hit fours. But they kept bowling short and I kept square-cutting. And they all were fours.” In a Press Trust of India interview, referring to Gautam Gambhir and to Sehwag’s 83 of 68 balls against England in the first test in Chennai in December 2008.
9. “I am nowhere near him. I grew up watching and idolizing him, his style, his shots I always tried to copy. The best I can be is to be his disciple.” Speaking about Sachin Tendulkar in the same Jan. 2009 interview.
10. “No, no, no, watch ball, hit ball.” Sehwag shared his secret with Paul Collingwood in April 2009, after the Englishman asked if Sehwag was constantly thinking of playing each ball correctly as the bowler ran up.
10. “No.” When Nagraj Gollapudi of Cricinfo asked him, in September 2009, if the former India coach Greg Chappell had given him any tips.
11. “I have asked him many times what the zone is. He tells me that’s when ‘I see nothing except the ball.’ I ask how that is possible. I have never felt something like that. I have asked Rahul Dravid the same thing. He says sometimes when he is in really good form, he sees only the ball – and not the sightscreen, the nonstriker, the umpire or who is bowling, he just sees only the ball. But I have never entered that zone even if I’ve scored triple centuries twice. Maybe I will enter that zone they talk about in future.” In the same Cricinfo interview, when asked for his definition of “being in the zone”.
12. “I have made it very simple for myself. There are 90 overs to be played in a day. If I am able to hit a boundary in 80 of these I can get to a triple hundred by the end of the day’s play and set a match up for my team.” In January 2010, when Open Magazine asked him how he planned his test innings.
13. “I like having hair.” In an amusing NDTV interview in October 2010, when asked about his hair transplant.
14. “I try to hum songs, bhajans, Sai Baba bhajans, Kishore Kumar songs, especially those pictured on Amitabh Bachchan, till the bowler is about to deliver. I try to sing songs as perfectly as possible in order to keep my mind completely uncluttered.” Quoted Jan. 2009 about how he keeps his focus between balls.
15. “Whatever you tell No. 10 or No. 11, they always do what they want to do.” In November 2011 after a tight one-wicket win over the West Indies in the first one-day international at Cuttack.
16. “Baap baap hota hai, beta beta hota hai.” (A father is always a father and a son will always remain a son.) Referring to a hilarious onfield exchange with Shoaib Akthar. To Shah Rukh Khan in 2010.
17. “I was playing my shots throughout the innings, but I started thinking about 200 in the batting powerplay, and when Sammy dropped the catch I thought, ‘God is with me.’ ” On Thursday after scoring 219, a world record.