Virender Sehwag has announced his retirement from international cricket, more than two-and-a-half years on from his last appearance for India, the news was made official by the bastman himself on Twitter, the day after he had indicated during the Masters Cricket League launch in Dubai.
This brings down the curtains on a remarkable career in which he scored 17,253 international runs across formats. Sehwag is the only Indian batsman to score a triple-century in Tests, and he did it twice.
With 8586 runs from 104 Test matches, Sehwag stands at fifth in India’s all-time list. In ODIs, he scored 8273 runs, with 15 centuries including the second-highest individual score of 219. In 19 Twenty20 internationals, the right-hander made 394 runs. Aside from all those runs, Sehwag took 40 wickets in Tests and 96 in ODIs.
Though he made his ODI debut in 1999 and was initially seen as a limited-overs player, Sehwag’s biggest contribution was changing the way opening batsman approached Test cricket. A middle-order batsman from his Delhi days, Sehwag made his name opening for India in Test cricket after the former coach John Wright and Sourav Ganguly took a gamble on him during the Lord’s Test of 2002. Sehwag had debuted in Tests at No 6 the year before, scoring a glittering century against South Africa, and was a reluctant candidate to move up the order. But with a punchy innings of 84 in his first innings as opener, his role was confirmed.
Sehwag went on to revolutionise the opener’s approach, and his strike-rate of 82.23 is the best for any batsman to aggregate over 2000 runs. The 2003-04 season was a breakthrough one for him, with 1040 run in nine Tests including 195 on day one of the MCG Test and India’s first triple century, a 375-ball 309 against Pakistan at Multan.
Among his other Test career highlights are match-winning centuries in Mumbai (twice), Galle, Kanpur, Kolkata, Colombo and Ahmedabad and, famously, an attacking 68-ball 83 on the fourth evening of the Chennai Test in December 2008 that propelled India towards victory on the final day. One of this most unique innings came at Adelaide earlier that year, in his comeback series, when he produced a patient 151 in the second innings to secure a draw.
Incredibly, of his 23 Test centuries, 14 were in excess of 150. Apart from two monumental triple-centuries – the first at Multan and the second versus South Africa at Chennai in 2008 – Sehwag possesses four doubles. He was a key figure in the Test team’s ascendancy to No 1 in the ICC rankings, scoring centuries both home and away. In late 2012, Sehwag became the ninth Indian cricketer to play 100 Test matches.
His ODI career was overall somewhat underwhelming, with an average of 35.05 from 251 matches, but 14 of his 15 centuries came in Indian victories. His maiden ODI century came off just 69 balls, at the age of 22, and other memorable innings include the 126 he scored against England in the 2002 Champions Trophy, an unbeaten 125 at Hamilton in 2009, the 175 against Bangladesh that marked the start of the 2011 World Cup and his landmark double-century against West Indies in December 2011.
Sehwag was a part of the Indian team that reached the final of the 2003 ICC World Cup and lifted the 2011 edition. In Twenty20 internationals, he was a member of the side that lifted the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007. He occasionally captained India, in 12 ODIs scattered between 2003 and 2012 and four Tests from 2005 to 2012. He led India in their maiden T20I too, at Johannesburg in 2006.