Virender Sehwag smashed 74 and helped India Legends beat West Indies Legends in the opening game of the Road Safety World Series. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar walked out to the middle at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai for the opening game of the Road Safety World Series opening game against West Indies. The fans, in excess of 26,000 at the stadium and the millions watching on TV, had the feeling that they were back in time during the golden era of Indian cricket. Virender Sehwag the dasher, Tendulkar the gold-standard, Yuvraj Singh the match-winner and the electric fielding of Mohammad Kaif gave the fans plenty to cheer. The West Indies had their own legends in Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the eternal run-machine against India, Brian Lara the ultime legend and the all-round skills of Carl Hooper. In the end, in what was Tendulkar's first game at the Wankhede since his retirement in 2013, Sehwag blasted 74 and helped India Legends win by seven wickets on Saturday.
It was a day when the result of the match did not matter. The very thought of seeing the likes of Lara, Sehwag, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Chanderpaul and Hooper once again in action was enough for fans to be happy and content. India Legends Chose To Field but Darren Ganga and Chanderpaul gave West Indies Legends a strong start, with Ganga smashing two fours off Munaf Patel and Pragyan Ojha. Zaheer Khan struck in his first over when he bowled Ganga with a delivery that seamed back in but the left-arm pacer was greeted by two fours from Brian Lara as the crowd found it's voice.
When Lara drove a full ball from Manpreet Gony to the deep extra cover fence, the crowd chanted 'Lara, Lara' in what was a surreal moment. However, Irfan Pathan had his moment when he had Lara stumped by Samir Dighe. The dismissal of Lara saw Chanderpaul take the reigns and he hammered three fours in one over of Irfan. Danza Hyatt struck legspinner sairaj Bahutule for a six but Chanderpaul was struggling with cramps. The left-hander recovered and he hammered a six off Yuvraj. Pragyan Ojha struck twice by removing Hyatt and Hooper in two overs.
Chanderpaul shouldered on to score the first fifty in the tournament but in a moment of brilliance, Munaf Patel got the wicket of Ricardo Powell as Zaheer Khan took a leaping one-handed catch at deep square leg. Chanderpaul hammered a six off Zaheer but the bowler had his revenge when he bowled Ridley Jacobs with a yorker on middle stump. Munaf dismissed Chanderpaul for 61 but some big blows by Tino Best helped West Indies reach 150/8.
In the 2011 World Cup triumphs, Sehwag made it a point to get off the mark with a boundary which set the tone for the game. In Wankhede, Sehwag once again reminded everyone of his genius as he got going with two fours in the first over bowled by Pedro Collins. Tendulkar followed suit with two fours off Collins and he survived a dropped chance when he edged Tino Best to slip but Hooper dropped the chance. Tendulkar made West Indies pay by smashing three boundaries off Suleimann Benn and when Sehwag smashed three fours off Dinanath Ramnarine, India had raced to 59/0 in the powerplay.
Both batsmen made smooth progress but on 36, Tendulkar edged a drive to Jacobs as Benn took his wicket for 36. Sehwag notched up his fifty and India neared the target when Sehwag smashed two fours off Tino Best. Carl Hooper was on hat-trick when he dismissed Mohammad Kaif and Manpreet Gony in quick succession but Yuvraj Singh kept the hat-trick ball out. With 21 needed off 18 balls, Yuvraj blasted a six off Ramnarine and Sehwag responded with two fours as India needed three runs. Fittingly, Sehwag killed the match with a four off Hooper.
Speaking after the match, Sehwag said it was Tendulkar who told him to bat till the end. "That's the thing when you do with Tendulkar, he told me to bat till the end. He was pushing us to bat hard and field over the last two days, so I tried to follow what he said. The wicket was not great, it wasn't coming onto the bat," Sehwag said. Tendulkar, on the other hand, said it was great to come back to the Wankhede after seven years.
"It's special to be back here after 2013. The atmosphere was buzzing througout the game. We have to enjoy ourselves, give our best. I played one over in Australia, but I had to borrow everything while playing there. I am so happy this tournament is happening. Lara, the West Indies skipper, said he went back in time while playing at the Wankhede. "The crowd support was amazing, it took me back by 15-16 years when I used to play," Lara said. The next match at the Wankhede stadium will be between Australia Legends and Sri Lanka Legends before the action shifts to Navi Mumbai at the DY Patil Stadium.