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Virender Sehwag just wanted to see the ball and hit it: R Ashwin

Ashwin said Sehwag never considered off-spinners as bowlers and repeatedly cut good balls off them from the stumps for boundaries.

Virender Sehwag
Virender Sehwag. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

Virender Sehwag was a true entertainer. He was one of a kind who had a different approach to the game. While Sehwag might look like a very casual cricketer to many, the right-hander thought a lot about how to go about his game. Attacking bowlers was his success mantra despite being peppered with good balls.

Sehwag is considered as one of the best openers to have played for India. He got a revolutionary change to how people look at opening in Test cricket. The aggressive batter was known to be a murderer of spin bowling. Ravichandran Ashwin, the world No. 2 Test bowler currently, gave an insight on how Sehwag’s mind functioned.

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‘He used to cut me repeatedly’

Ashwin played a couple of years of international cricket alongside Sehwag. The great bowler that he is, the off-spinner struggled to get the better of the Delhi dasher while bowling him in the nets. Talking in a chat show ‘What the Duck 2’, he recounts one such net session where Sehwag was in imperious touch.

“There was an incident in Dambulla, where every ball that I bowled, first ball I bowled outside off stump, Sehwag cut me. Next ball I bowled on off stump, he cuts me. Next ball I bowled on middle stump, he cuts me.

“The next ball I bowl on leg stump, he again cuts me. So I said ‘what the hell is happening’. So I just bowled a ball fuller, Sehwag stepped out and slugged me out for a six,” Ashwin said.

‘Off-spinners are not bowlers’ he said

Ashwin wasn’t a regular member of the Indian side then and said that he didn’t face such problems while bowling to Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the best batsman the world has ever seen.

“But then I couldn’t hold myself back, I went to him (Sehwag) and asked, ‘so what should I do to improve’. If I had ask to Sachin, he would have given me some tips. If it were MS, he would have given me a perspective,” he said.

“Viru said ‘You know what, I don’t think off-spinners are bowlers. They do not trouble me at all. I just find it easy smashing them’. I said ‘Sir you are cutting me’. He said, ‘Yeah, I hit off-spinners against the spin on the off side and for left-arm spinners, I will hit against the spin on the leg side.”

This gives us an insight on how Sehwag’s brain used to work. He even whipped someone like Shane Warne, a massive turner of the ball, against the turn during his playing days.

Ashwin comes up with a plan

Ashwin said that he was being thrashed like a 10-year old. After being thumped initially, Ashwin finally came up with a plan.

“So the best possible plan against Sehwag was to bowl every single ball as best rubbish ball that you can give. And I got him out a few times in the IPL that way. Because what he expects is not what you dish out. Because he expects you to bowl good balls,” said Ashwin.

“So basically for Sehwag, it was very simple, he hit people on good balls. So my simple strategy to Sehwag was to bowl rubbish balls. And it worked. Because when you start bowling rubbish balls, he starts dictating the pace to you with your rubbish balls or your so-called against him.”

He was least interested in team meetings

Ashwin also mentioned Sehwag’s non-keenness on participating in team meetings. He was more concerned about following his mantra of ‘see ball, hit ball’.

“He (Sehwag) just wanted to see the ball and hit it. He used to be the least participative during team meetings,” he said.

“There used to be team meetings or huddles, followed by a short speech addressed by Gary (Kirsten). MS (Dhoni) would then take over, would not utter a word and said everything is good. That was how team meetings would end,” revealed Ashwin.

Sehwag had a fulfilling international career where he won 104 Test caps for India in which he scored 8586 runs at 49.34. He was the first Indian to hit a triple century, a feat he achieved twice in his glorious career. In 251 ODIs, Sehwag got 8273 runs at 35.05. The remarkable aspect about his ODI career was his strike rate of 104.33. He also hit a double century in this format alongside 14 centuries.

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