Virender Sehwag is one of the big success stories in Indian cricket. Not because the Nawab of Najafgarh became the first Indian to score a triple hundred in Test cricket. Nor for his second triple century that he scored against South Africa in Chennai in 2008.
It is simply because Sehwag is one of the few Indian middle-order batsmen to succeed as an opener in Test cricket â€” the other one being Ravi Shastri. That too for over a decade.
If one takes a look at the history of Indian cricket, one will realise that many talented batsmen were forced to open the innings and failed, thereby finding it difficult to retain their place in the Indian squad â€” ML Jaisimha, Dilip Sardesai, Ashok Mankad and, during the early phase of his career, VVS Laxman.
On his Test debut against South Africa in Bloemfontein in 2001, Sehwag blasted Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini on a flier of a pitch to score a magnificent 105 runs.
In 2002, at Lordâ€™s, Sehwag was pitchforked into the opening slot and has remained there till date. How can one analyse Sehwagâ€™s career as a batsman thus far? If one has to â€˜selectâ€™ an alltime great Indian team, who would Sunil Gavaskarâ€™s opening partner be? The technical genius Vijay Merchant or the basher of bowlers Sehwag?
With Gambhir sitting on the sidelines with Sehwag, one does not get the confidence that India will get off to a good start against like likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
Sehwag has always wanted to bat, at his original place of comfort, in the lower order. With Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli showing their hunger for runs while batting around Tendulkar and Dhoni in the form of his life, it will be a difficult call for Sandeep Patil and company to make. Will they stick to their youth policy and retain the youngsters or will they gamble with that crucial, unpredictable card called Virender Sehwag. They have till November to think about it.