UNCALLED FOR

Posted on June 30, 2016. Filed under: CRICKET, SACHIN TENDULKAR | Tags: , , , , |

This is too much.

Kumar Sangakkara played cricket for Sri Lanka with a lot of distinction. Even after retiring from international and first class cricket, Sangakkara has been playing T20 cricket in different parts of the cricketing world.

During his playing days, Sangakkara was known as someone who was not afraid to speak out in public. He was also not averse in giving back to his opponents verbals when required.

Sangakkara has suddenly become the person to hate for a large section of the followers of Sachin Tendulkar. Why? Sangakkara picked a team of eleven players that did not include Sachin.The list includes only one player from India-Rahul Dravid. I think this made the followers very angry, to say the least. How dare Sangakkara ‘drop’ the legend when Indian selectors never even dared to think about leaving Sachin out of the team. Sachin did not want to continue, otherwise he would still be playing even now.

Tennis player Maria Sharapova was taken to the cleaners on the social networks when she pleaded ignorance of Sachin and achievements. The attacks were extremely vitriolic and uncalled for since not many of the so-called fans of Sachin know much about the tennis player.

It will not  surprise me if somewhere in India people start rioting in the streets and burn up the effigies of Sangakkara for his unpardonable ‘crime’ !

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ON TECHNIQUES

Posted on April 21, 2013. Filed under: CRICKET, IPL, SEHWAG, SPORTS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

 

Oxforddictionaries.com provides the following meanings for the term technique:

1.skill or ability in a particular field

2.a skilful or efficient way of doing or achieving something

Merrian-Webster.com also has a similar offering to make when technique is defined as a method of accomplishing a desired aim.

What is my aim of talking about technique?

It has to do something with athletes and sportspersons in general and Virendra Sehwag in particular.

Sehwag has been one of my most favourite of cricket players and when he fails to perform as is the case now, it is painful to say the least for me and many of his fans.

A student of mine, who is now a colleague, blamed the lack of technique as the reason for the repeated failures of Sehwag that has led to the omission of the batsman from the Indian team. Even in the world of IPL where Sehwag was expected to score heavily, things have been extremely disappointing.

There are instances when commentators use the phrases like ‘straight out of the copybook’ or ‘right out of the coaching manual’ while describing a shot. I wonder which or whose manual or the copybook is to be used as a reference while explaining a particular shot played by a particular player. This is because each player has his or her own technique that is as individual as the player in question. This is very much a dichotomy since every player is urged to play according to his or her natural talents (meaning individual technique), yet at the same time, we spend too much time thinking and talking about some manual or copybook.

Every player has a particular way of dealing with a specific ball or a pitch and it is very difficult to have a similar solution for all. The physical characteristics of the individual player do matter a lot when playing a shot. There can be only one Brian Lara and no matter how hard one desires to imitate his style, the lefthander will be considered unique.Ravindra Pushpakumara of Sri Lanka had a bowling action very close to that of Waqar Younis of Pakistan but the Sri Lankan could not even once replicate the success of the Pakistan paceman. A certain Vivian Richards had a style and technique of his own and no other batsman till date has shown that kind of an ability that would make bowlers shiver in their pants.

Sunil Gavaskar was extremely successful playing against some of the greatest fast bowlers that have graced the game. He did that without the use of the helmet and that too on wickets that were really fast and bouncy all over the world. At the same time, Gavaskar was equally adept against the spinners as his last innings of 96 versus Pakistan at Bangalore would testify. But there were some question marks about his record against spinners like Derek Underwood. The same is the case with Sachin Tendulkar when it comes to the handling of left-arm spinners. In his last tour down under, Rahul Dravid the technician was repeatedly out bowled. Do these o-called failings cast a question mark over the technique of these masters?

In tennis, the top players have their own style or techniques. Nadal is different from Djokovic who is completely different from Federer when it comes to technique. But all of them are successful. There was a time when the two-handed backhand shot was out of fashion in the men’s game but Djokovic has made it something of his signature shot. Those pundits or the so-called experts who earlier had some theories about why the two-handed backhand would not work are having a quiet time eating the humble pie.

Usain Bolt was deemed too tall for a sprinter and he has the physique of a marathon man from Africa but Bolt is the fastest man in the world for sometime now.

There have many singers who made the initial mark by imitating or covering the songs of the inimitable Kishore Kumar but later they tried to shed this image and started to sing in their own way. One can sing like a Kishore Kumar but one cannot become a Kishore Kumar.

It is not the technique or the lack of it that is responsible for the poor showing of Sehwag. The opposing teams and their bowlers have become smarter and Sehwag has failed to recognize this and reinvent his game. The failure is more due to the lack of confidence in part and in part due to the arrogance. Given the current state, it is very difficult to anticipate a successful comeback by Sehwag into the Indian team but that does not in any way diminish his contribution to the success of the Indian cricket in the not too distant past.

It is not mathematics where there is a unique solution for a specific problem. It is a sport where individual ability and creativity are involved and where a critical decision is to be made when not even a few seconds are available.Does anyone bother about the techniques of masters like Leonardo DaVinci or Michelangelo? Let us not bother about the technical failings of Sehwag. Sit back and recollect those innings where Sehwag conjured some magic with the same technique in the past.

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WHY THE SELECTORS ARE RIGHT?

Posted on December 4, 2012. Filed under: CRICINFO, CRICKET, INDIA, M S DHONI, SACHIN TENDULKAR, SEHWAG, YUVRAJ SINGH | Tags: , , |

After the loss in the Mumbai test, there was a clamour for changes to be made for the rest of the series versus England.But the selectors decided to stick with the players who donned the national colours in Mumbai. On expected lines, the selectors were criticised. But I have my reasons why the selectors could not take any harsh decisions.

1.GAUTAM GAMBHIR

He is someone who played well in the past and who captained his team the Kolkata Knight Riders to the IPL glory.Gambhir is someone who is potentially a captaincy material.If Shahrukh Khan were the chief selector, then Gambhir would have been the captain of India.Moreover, he plays alongside the other opener Sehwag for the Delhi team and they make a good combination of the left and the right.

2.VIRENDRA SEHWAG

Viru scored a century in the first test at Ahmedabad although this fact was completely ignored after the feats of Pujara and Ojha.After all, he is the only Indian batsman to score over 300 runs in a test innings and that too twice.

 

3.CHETESWAR PUJARA

Whether he is the genuine replacement for Rahul Dravid, Pujara has shown great temperament and skill by making two three figure scores in the ongoing series.He had only one failure and that too in the second innings of the Mumbai test.

4.SACHIN TENDULKAR

It is very difficult for the selectors to even think about leaving Sachin out of the team especially given his past record.As many of his supporters felt, the selectors also realised that the great man is just one good innings away from glory.Besides, we ordinary mortals cannot decide on the future of Sachin.You cannot drop someone who is also a Member of Parliament. We don’t want the Parliament to shut down protesting against this kind of injustice.

5.YUVRAJ SING

Yuvraj failed in both the innings of the Mumbai test, so what? He just beat cancer and he was a prominent contributor to the win in the World Cup.Public memory is short and if he is dropped, his mother would become very angry.

6.VIRAT KOHLI

In the past 12 months, Virat has been true to his name-big scoring runs against different bowlers in different formats of the game.Moreover, he has made a hundred in Australia where the rest of the Indian batsmen found the opposition bowlers very hot to handle.As some would say, he is also in line to be the captain of the team in the not too distant future considering his experience of leading the Indian under 19 team to victory in the World Cup.

7.M S DHONI

This is about the most successful captain in the history of Indian cricket.He won the World Cup for India after a long wait for the entire nation. People forget the disastrous campaign in England and Australia both as a captain and as a batsman.Dhoni has never been a good batsman on good pitches and against good bowlers.The critics have been extremely harsh about the wicketkeeping misses of Dhoni too.The supporters of Dhoni argue that the captain is only as good as his team.

8.ZAHEER KHAN

Ever since Zaheer burst on to the scene bowling fast yorkers, most Indian cricket fans felt genuine pride.But as time passed by, the pace got reduced.Nevertheless, Zaheer got wickets by gaining control over swing.But he is the best non-spinner for India in the present times.

9.HARBHAJAN SINGH

He did not look like a bowler who has 400 test wickets to his name in the Mumbai test.On a pitch where Swann and Panesar got the better of Indian batsmen, Harbhajan merely looked like a bowler who was meant to complete his quota of overs.Public memory is short for he has a hat trick to his name and that too against the mighty Aussies.

10.PRAGYAN OJHA

Ojha bowled well in the first test and also took wickets in the test in Mumbai.But he too was not spared by the critics.He should have bowled from both the ends!.

11.RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN

How can one even think about leaving Ashwin out of the team when he is regarded by some as the next great all-rounder after Kapil Dev.Ashwin should be in the team as a batsman who if required, can bowl a few overs.

Now going by the past contributions, the records and the sacrifices made by these players, how on earth can the selectors be expected to bite the bullet and take strong decisions? My vote is with the selectors.Moreover, as one expert put, where are the replacements?

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THEY TOO ARE CHAMPIONS

Posted on July 5, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, TENNIS | Tags: , , , , , , |

In every sport and game, there have been some players who did not get the recognition they deserved just because their careers coincided with some of the greatest in the history of the respective fields.

Roger Federer is undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever to step on to the tennis court but then the achievements of Rafael Nadal are not to be understated. There was a time when Federer with his sublime touch and great skills dominated the game and everyone was in awe.There were debates about the titles and the records that the Swiss maestro would gather in the coming years.But then came the Spaniard called Nadal and the tennis world was not a one man show any longer.Nadal and Federer were as different as chalk from cheese.While Federer relied more on touch, Nadal was all power.

Federer won all the three majors with the exception of the one on the red clay of Paris at Roland Garros.Nadal on the other hand coming from the land of such baseline hitters as Bruguera,Ferrer and Ferroro and Moya seemed to be a natural on the slow surfaces.His game took him all the way to top in Paris where Nadal successfully overcame the challenge posed by everyone including Federer.The French Open was the one trophy missing from the impressive collection and Federer was not ashamed to express his desire in public a number of times.It was only when Robin Soderling upset Nadal, that Roger Federer could finally nail the French.

Meanwhile, Nadal confounded everyone to put it past Federer even on the grass turf at SW 19.Suddenly, Nadal was no longer a clay court expert but a genuine all-rounder.

But the stupendous achievements of Nadal could not detract some commentators calling him ‘a freak’.Even during the just completed 125th edition of the Wimbledon, there was a talk of Nadal pulling out of the tournament due to an injury.Suddenly, the commentators felt an opportunity for Federer.But unfortunately, Federer could not go past the quarter-finals thanks to the sterling display put up by Tsonga.

rafael-nadal

Why does Nadal not get the recognition that he surely deserves? Does it have something to do with his apparel on court or his style of play or his looks?

Coming to the Indian cricket team, one man has by virtue of his sheer genius managed to overshadow not only his famed opponents but also the stupendous achievements of his own teammates.

Sourav Ganguly for a great part of his career could get the respect of everyone more so in case of the one-dayers where he formed a great partnership with Sachin at the top of the batting order.The century on his first outing at Lords’ is the stuff of legends.What Sourav lost out as a player vis-a-vis Sachin was more than made up by his exploits as a captain.

Anil Kumble is recognised as one of the greatest spinners in the history of cricket sharing the podium with the likes of Shane Warne.His career coincided again with the career of Sachin.In another era, Kumble would have been as great a superstar as Sachin.

Next is the case of the player who manages to justify the tag ‘Very Very Special’ time and again when most of his teammates falter.I am talking about V V S Laxman who has not looked back since the epic innings of 281 at Kolkata versus the Australians. The recent victories of India in the test matches and the ascent of the team to the top of the test rankings is due to some telling contributions from the bat of Laxman.

DRAVID

But my heart goes out to Rahul Dravid who has not got the recognition that he richly deserves. His style of batting has earned him the nickname “The Wall” which I feel is rather derogatory.It is this style of play that has resulted in many great wins for India and at the same time brought more than 10,000 runs and 34 centuries in test cricket.Dravid is also the record holder as far as catches by a non-wicketkeeper is concerned. Let us also not forget that Dravid made a significant contribution to the one-day team in the run-up to the finals of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup.

One headline during the ongoing test series in the West Indies made me sit up.Dravid made a hundred in the first test which contributed to a great win.The next morning one news channel screamed ‘oldest man in test cricket currently scores a century’.The headlines would surely have been different if a Sachin or a Dhoni scored a hundred.Why this discrimination against Dravid?

I am once again forced to ask-is it because Dravid plays differently or is there any other reason that I do not know about? There were some commentators in the past who even blamed the physiological characteristics of Dravid as the cause of his style of play. They pointed out that Dravid tended to lose his stamina quickly on account of his profuse sweating.

It is true that sometimes Rahul Dravid seems to fall into a rut while batting which makes viewing cricket extremely painful.It appears that Dravid has to bear the burden of the entire world on his frail shoulders much like the mythical figure of Atlas. But to his credit, Dravid has time and again come up with something that helped his team immensely.

Dravid was removed from the one-day team many times and his removal as the captain of the India team needs a lot of explaining.But these incidents have only seemed to strengthen the will and the resolve of Dravid to do more for his team as was the case in the first test at Jamaica.

Make no mistake, I am as big fan as anyone when it comes to Sachin or Federer but Nadal and Dravid are also champions in their own right.

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IS WORLD CUP EVERYTHING?

Posted on January 1, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, SACHIN TENDULKAR | Tags: , , , , |

 

Zico of Brazil was an extraordinarily gifted footballer from Brazil. He won many trophies but could not ever become a World Cup winner.

Socrates a teammate of Zico for many years also failed to win at the biggest stage of world football like many other super talented footballers of his generation from Brazil.

Michel Platini of France was renowned for his skills as a midfield maestro who could not take his team to glory at the World Cup.

Ivan Lendl won many tennis matches and was ranked the best player in the world for a long while but he could not win the trophy that matters- at Wimbledon.

John McEnroe could not win the French Open even after taking a two set lead in the finals once.

All these players are considered great even when they have not won perhaps the ultimate prize in their respective areas.

The achievements of Sachin Tendulkar are well documented and there is only one word to describe him- ‘great’. But Dean Jones argues that Sachin is not the greatest since the Mumbai batsman has never been part of a World Cup winning team.

Jones like many Australians is not able to live with the fact that an Indian is being talked as being equal or even being better than Donald Bradman. Even while he acknowledges the achievements of Sachin, Jones does not hesitate to drop the World Cup or the lack of it to downplay the greatness of the Mumbai maestro.

Cricket is a team game and it takes all the players in the team to perform in order to win a tournament that is spread out over a period of time. Jones was part of one Cup winning team in 1987.Most of the same team took to the field in 1992 and it was booted out of the event even in home conditions.

Brian Lara another great cricketer of his generation is also someone who could never be a part of any World Cup winning squad but this never diminishes the achievements of the left-hander from the Caribbean.

Sachin has scored the maximum runs in the World Cup and he even was the ‘player of the tournament’ in 2003 even when Australia won beating India in the final.

What more Sachin has to prove?

It is more of a case of sour grapes for Mr. Dean Jones.

It is time our media stopped giving the space to such ‘professors’.

There is more to cricket in general and Sachin Tendulkar in particular than the World Cup medal. The CV of Sachin does not require one such medal.

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ONE SIMILARITY

Posted on January 1, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, SACHIN TENDULKAR | Tags: , , , , |

After Sachin scored his 50th test hundred, there was a lot of talk about his greatness vis-a-vis Donald Bradman.Indians, me including feel that Sachin is the greatest but the Aussies don’t want any of that.

 

To use a cliche, comparisons are always odious, especially, when it involves players belonging to different periods.But to be fair, while Sachin has played and scored in every test playing country, the Don played in just two countries.Of course, the supporters of the Don would be ready to show the statistics to justify their claim.

 

Let me move away from cricket and bring in what for me is something that is common to Sachin and Donald Bradman.Cricket writers/historians covering the times of the Don tell about how his cricket had a soothing effect on the public ravaged by the Great Depression and the Second World War.

 

The exploits of Sachin this year where the public of India was exposed to different kinds of scams and wrongdoings came as a refreshing change.The television channels and the media were forced to change tracks from the Rajas and Co. to Sachin.

Hope 2011 will be better for Sachin and India.

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iNDIA DOWN & OUT

Posted on December 17, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , |

It is only the second day and India is already down in the dumps in the first test at Centurion. It is interesting that more than half of the first day’s play could not be possible due to the rain and wet outfield.

The home team has taken a lead of over 200 runs going into the third day with eight more batsmen still to come to crease. The openers Smith and Peterson gave a solid start and both scored half-centuries. The fast bowlers could not make any impression and it was Harbhajan Singh who got the two wickets to fall on the day.

Then it was the Kallis and Amla show all the way as they have put together more than 200 runs and still they are at the crease. Dhoni tried different bowlers including Sachin and Raina but with no success.

This match takes my memory back to the Kingsmead test many years ago when Allan Donald and company destroyed the Indian batting. The tourists were bowled out for less than 100 and the home team put up a big score.

Then came perhaps one of the greatest innings ever played by Sachin Tendulkar. In the company of Azharuddin, Sachin murdered the South Africans and there were runs all over the ground. It looked like a highlights package as Azharuddin also scored the runs at a very brisk pace. The partnership ended only when there was a run out and after that a great catch took the match to South Africa.

In many ways, this match is similar to the times when Sachin was the only Indian batsman to score runs against difficult bowling and mostly in the second innings. But in the final analysis, India lost the match. I really hope that Sachin does not get to his 50th hundred in that way.

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ON THE BACKFOOT

Posted on December 16, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, SEHWAG, SOUTH AFRICA, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , , |

The worst fears have come true with the Indian batsmen unable to handle the fast bowlers at the Super Sports Park in Centurion.

Sehwag carried a lot of hopes but he played a shot that went straight into the hands of the waiting fielder.One expert called it ‘an irrational shot’.But I say it is due to the planning that South Africa had done for the batsman.

Gambhir, though an extremely capable batsman, is still untested when it comes to facing genuine fast bowling on pacy wickets.He had a harrowing time before giving the edge to the slip fielder.Dravid went past Brian Lara in the all time list of runs scored in test matches but could not last long.

Sachin looked in form before falling.Laxman was beaten by the pace and the movement.The less said is better about Suresh Raina. It is a wonder how many more opportunities should be given to the left-hander to prove himself.

Harbhajan showed his improved prowess as a batsman and that is something of a danger for in recent times, he bowls more like a part-timer.

There is of course, Dhoni still at the crease.My feeling is that he shall remain not out which would boost his average by a very small margin but has no import in the context of the match.

The weathermen have predicted some thundershowers on the fourth and the fifth days.That may give some hope for a draw if only the match goes that far.

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A LOT AT STAKE

Posted on December 15, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , |

It is the time that the Indian team stood up to the challenge of playing real fast bowlers on wickets that have pace and bounce.

South Africa has never been a delightful experience for the Indians with the exception of the T20 World Cup, the 2003 World Cup and sterling individual performances.

With the tag of No.1 the Indian cricket team has a lot to prove.The lacklustre showing against the New Zealand at home in the test series should be a cruel pointer.I do not want to sound like a pessimist or a Jaywant Lele, but something tells me that this series could be a make or break for the team and a lot of players.

The news of Zaheer Khan and Shreesanth being doubtful for the first test could not have come at a more inopportune time.The spinners, the less said the better for they could not answer the questions posed by the batsmen from New Zealand.Surely, the likes of Kallis and Co. are much more accomplished and have the entries in the record books to justify this.

In the batting department, everything comes down to the seniors led by the gentleman named Sachin Tendulkar. It would be a photographer’s delight to watch Raina face the fast bowlers.

Historically, India have not done well in the opening test of a series at home as well as on foreign soil.So a wrong foot in the first test could make things extremely complicated in the series.The sad losses in the first two test matches in the last tour of Australia could not prevent India from saving the series even with that famous win in Perth.

The captaincy of Dhoni and his famed ‘midas touch’-largely a myth will be put under tremendous pressure.

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aN ORIGINAL

Posted on April 18, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, SEHWAG, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , , |

It is difficult to make oneself count when one of your teammates goes by the name of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Ever since the Mumbai maestro made his debut in 1989, all cricketing superlatives seem to head in one direction-Mumbai.

Great cricketers like Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and V V S Laxman could have made the headlines consistently, but for the exploits of Sachin. All of these have been match winners, though.

But,one man though has carried a bigger burden. Virendra Sehwag was called a ‘Sachin Clone’ and even today some one called him the protégé of Sachin. The commentators might shamelessly argue that such labeling is some sort of a compliment without recognizing the full import of the contributions made by the ‘Nawab of Nazafgarh’ to the success of Indian cricket in recent times. These epithets, I believe are just an indication of a pretty blinkered view of the world.Sachin is without doubt a great player but that does not make Virendra Sehwag an ordinary player.

Sehwag was and even now accused of having a bad technique for a proper batsman.A number of commentators take pride in pointing out the flaws in his technique when the batsman is out for a small score.But then how have the runs continued to flow from his bat?

Sehwag was also accused during the Chappell era of possessing a spirit detrimental to the interests of the Indian team and the Delhi batsman was left out of the team for a while. This also went against Sehwag as far as the captaincy was concerned.It is a testimony of his temperament that he weathered all these storms and made a smashing comeback into the team.

Even during the last trip to Australia Sehwag could not find a place in the test team and when given the opportunity, he batted for a long time in ensuring the safety of his team.

Few players have batted in the way that Sehwag does in the longer version of the game over a long period of time.In the Multan test, Sehwag hit a six to go to the triple hundred mark. Sehwag is incidentally the only batsman after Donald Bradman to go past the 290 mark in a test innings on three occasions.

Wisden named Virendra Sehwag as the Leading Cricketer in the World for the Year for the second year running.

Surely, this is not a bad recognition for some clone or a poor imitation having very few qualities of the original and in this case the copy sometimes seems to shine brighter than the original.

It is difficult to make oneself count when one of your teammates goes by the name of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Ever since the Mumbai maestro made his debut in 1989, all cricketing superlatives seem to head in one direction-Mumbai.

Great cricketers like Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and V V S Laxman could have made the headlines consistently, but for the exploits of Sachin. All of these have been match winners, though.

But,one man though has carried a bigger burden. Virendra Sehwag was called a ‘Sachin Clone’ and even today some one called him the protégé of Sachin. The commentators might shamelessly argue that such labeling is some sort of a compliment without recognizing the full import of the contributions made by the ‘Nawab of Nazafgarh’ to the success of Indian cricket in recent times. These epithets, I believe are just an indication of a pretty blinkered view of the world.Sachin is without doubt a great player but that does not make Virendra Sehwag an ordinary player.

Sehwag was and even now accused of having a bad technique for a proper batsman.A number of commentators take pride in pointing out the flaws in his technique when the batsman is out for a small score.But then how have the runs continued to flow from his bat?

Sehwag was also accused during the Chappell era of possessing a spirit detrimental to the interests of the Indian team and the Delhi batsman was left out of the team for a while. This also went against Sehwag as far as the captaincy was concerned.It is a testimony of his temperament that he weathered all these storms and made a smashing comeback into the team.

Even during the last trip to Australia Sehwag could not find a place in the test team and when given the opportunity, he batted for a long time in ensuring the safety of his team.

Few players have batted in the way that Sehwag does in the longer version of the game over a long period of time.In the Multan test, Sehwag hit a six to go to the triple hundred mark. Sehwag is incidentally the only batsman after Donald Bradman to go past the 290 mark in a test innings on three occasions.

Wisden named Virendra Sehwag as the Leading Cricketer in the World for the Year for the second year running.

Surely, this is not a bad recognition for some clone or a poor imitation having very few qualities of the original and in this case the copy sometimes seems to shine brighter than the original.

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