For a brief while, on Tuesday night at Kotla, Virender Sehwag played second fiddle to 20-year-old Manan Vohra. With young Punjab batsman doing a ‘Sehwag’, hitting the ball with utter disdain, the 35-year-old with glasses didn’t have the spotlight on him.
Opening for Kings XI Punjab, Manan started by hitting Delhi Daredevil seamer Wayne Parnell for two fours and a six in successive balls. He would follow it up with a couple of sixes off Mohammad Shami — first a subtle punch off the backfoot and the second a dancing-down-the-track loft over long on.
A rank-junior in this league of extraordinary cricketers, Vohra was still tense. The big hits hadn’t shaken off the anxiety. But when Sehwag walked up to him, patted him on the shoulder and started humming a Hindi song, Vohra was first stunned. He then relaxed.
Recalling this pleasant middle of the pitch memory he says, “I asked him, ‘Paaji, how come you keep your cool in such pressure situations?” Sehwag didn’t react to the question, he burst out laughing. Maybe, even the old master didn’t have an answer to the question. Being relaxed was something that came naturally Sehwag. How Vohra wished he had the same gift.
Talking to The Indian Express, Manan spoke about Sehwag’s influence. “I have never seen such a calm cricketer. He tells me to be go for the shots and never be under pressure. Against Hyderabad Sunrisers, we had to chase 206 and it was my first match in the tournament. I was desperate as well as nervous as we walked to the crease. I told him, ‘Paaji it is my first match and such a huge total to achieve. How will I take on Dale Steyn and others?’ He said they are under pressure as they have to defend the total, you just go and have a blast. I did exactly the same and we managed to win the match too.” For the record, Vohra scored 47 from 20 balls. Against Delhi at Kotla, he would follow it up with a 42 from 19 balls.
Manan happens to be Sehwag’s third opening partner this IPL. King’s XI Punjab started with Cheteshwar Pujara at the top and later replaced him with Mandeep Singh. There were a few fruitful partnerships but none of the kind that Sehwag and Vohra had in the last game. “I was so desperate to go out