The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the biggest annual event on the global cricket calendar. Started in 2008 with a lot of hope but cautious scepticism, having gone through many ebbs and flows, the league has emerged stronger each year to showcase the world’s best talents on a single stage. The league has established itself as one of the biggest platforms for youngsters to flaunt their skills – a celebration where cricket’s largest global community meet, compete, share and build bridges.
Marking the 12th anniversary of the decorated league, cricket.com celebrates and honours the legends of the IPL by inducting them to the 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' – stars who not only dazzled on the field of play but elevated the stature of the league to skyrocketing heights by their sheer presence. This year cricket.com will induct 15 such legends. Our fourth 'Cricket.com Hall of Fame' inductee is the swashbuckling right-handed opener - Virender Sehwag.
Teams - Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab
- One of only five Indian players to score two IPL centuries.
- His 122 against Chennai Super Kings in 2014 is the third-highest individual score by an Indian batsman.
- His strike rate of 156.8 is the second-best for an opener after Jos Buttler's 158. (Minimum 1000 runs)
- His strike rate of 155.4 is the best for any batsman with over 2000 runs in the tournament.
- First-ever player to score five consecutive 50+ scores in the history of IPL.
- Only Indian to hit more than 100 sixes as an opener.
- 1211 - He was the quickest to 2000 IPL runs in terms of balls
What makes him HoF worthy: A fearless mind and a great entertainer
There isn't anyone like Virender Sehwag! They say leave Sehwag alone and he will win you games. The right-hander from Najafgarh played this complicated sport with an uncomplicated approach - watch the ball, hit the ball. No matter what the format was, Sehwag never shied away from playing his natural game. Make no mistake, he was by no means a slogger. In fact, Sehwag had tremendous hand-eye coordination and a street-smart cricketing mind. One of only four batsmen with two 300+ scores in Test cricket, Sehwag was tailor-made for T20 cricket and when the Indian Premier League was launched in 2008, Delhi made him their designated icon player.
He stayed with the franchise for six years and even captained them in four editions. He formed a solid opening combination with Gautam Gambhir and the two played a key role in leading Delhi to the playoffs. Sehwag scored 406 runs at an average of 33.83 and a strike-rate of 184.6 - best amongst batsmen with minimum 200 runs - in the first season of the tournament. In only his second innings, Sehwag smoked 94* off 41 against Deccan Chargers and showed everyone why he was a true match-winner.
After a horrid 2009 with the bat, Sehwag handed over the captaincy to his close friend Gambhir next year to concentrate on his batting. He might be uncomplicated but it's not easy to understand Sehwag. He thinks differently, bats differently and captains differently. He doesn't like to play safe and sometimes it comes back to bite his team. His best performance with the bat came in the next two editions (2011 and 2012) where he slammed 424 and 495 runs respectively. He was reappointed as Delhi's captain in 2011 after Gambhir shifted his base to Kolkata Knight Riders. He even smashed his first IPL century and almost scored 1/4th of the total team runs but still couldn't inspire his side to click as a unit.
2012 is when Sehwag was at his best. He was scoring runs on a consistent basis and Delhi topped the league stage by winning 11 of their 16 encounters. However, they once again failed to break the playoffs jinx and lost both of their qualifiers. Delhi parted ways with Sehwag after an unsuccessful 2013 edition and Kings XI Punjab bought him in the auction for INR 3.2 crore. It was pretty evident that Sehwag was no longer the player he was two years back, but one of his best IPL knocks actually came in that season. He was more of a mentor but did play a couple of crucial knocks. When he left Delhi, many of his fans too shifted their base to Punjab.
Playing under the inspirational leadership of George Bailey, Sehwag was constantly getting those 30s, apart from that one 72-run knock against Kolkata. He averaged over 21 after 15 games but finally brought his A-game in the second qualifier against Chennai Super Kings. The dashing opener smacked a 58-ball 122, studded with 12 fours and eight sixes and propelled Punjab to their first IPL final, which they unfortunately lost to Gambhir's Kolkata. In 2015, he could only score 99 runs in eight games and that was his final season as Sehwag announced his retirement from competitive cricket in October 2015.
He might not have won the IPL trophy but Sehwag for sure played the role of an entertainer to perfection, winning matches for his team, and fans' hearts for himself.
* The 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' only takes into account of players who have announced their retirement from IPL and last played in the 2018 season.