It took a while for Virender Sehwag to come out of his shell. But when he finally shelved his fearful nature and broke loose, without caring for consequences, he steadily established himself as one of the most dangerous batsmen in world cricket.
One can probably cite the Tri-series in Sri Lanka in 2001, involving India and New Zealand, as the tournament which saw Sehwag’s transition. Tendulkar-less, the Indian top order was trying in vain to find an opening partner for Sourav Ganguly. After various failed experiments, then lower-order all-rounder ‘Viru’, as his team-mates fondly call him, was promoted to walk the turf alongside the elegant left-hander. A century off 97 balls in a mammoth opening stand during a do-or-die match exposed his potential. It also changed his role in the side, from a bowling all-rounder to an opener cum part-time spinner. After a spree of fifties later in the year, Sehwag earned his maiden Test cap against South Africa. Playing again in the lower-middle order, he scored a century on debut. Against England in 2002, the failures of Shiv Sunder Das, Deep Das Gupta and Wasim Jaffer to solve India's opening woes allowed Sehwag to make the Test opening slot his own. Again, a century in a relatively quick time ensued, and inevitable comparisons began to be drawn with Sachin Tendulkar.
With a well-advanced back-lift set to hammer the oncoming delivery with minimalistic footwork, Sehwag's frugal run acquisitions made him arguably India's most feared batsman. It also helped him set various strike-rate related records, aside from being India's first ever batsman to score a triple hundred in Tests. Sehwag formed successful opening pairs with Sachin Tendulkar and Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir. Both partnerships helped India in its journey of becoming one of the most dominant teams in world cricket. He opened his account in the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup with a smashing 175 not out in India’s first match against Bangladesh. That score remained the highest individual score of the tournament. He was a constant support to Team India’s batting line-up and made an extensive contribution towards the team’s historic win. Sehwag entered the record books as he scored a swashbuckling 219 and became the world’s second cricketer to score a double century in ODIs.
Sehwag was an 'icon' player for Delhi during the inaugural season of the Indian T20 League. Over the years, he has played some scintillating knocks for the franchise. However, a dip in form during the 2013 season perhaps prompted them not to retain or buy him again during the 2014 auction. Mohali stepped in happily and bought Viru to end his 6-year stint with Delhi.