Why Sehwag shouldn’t bring his batting style into commentary box

Virendra Sehwag’s batting mantra was ‘see the ball and hit the ball’. He adopts a similar ‘no holds barred’ style in the commentary box; but that is doing more harm to him, and the country, than good

Photo by Santosh Harhare/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Santosh Harhare/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Vikrant Jha

It was the much-awaited contest between arch-rivals India and Pakistan. Emotions, on both the sides of the border, presumably run high when the two teams from sub-continent face off and it was no different on June 4. India comfortably defeated Pakistan and the much-hyped match, yet again, failed to provide a tough contest.

However, legendary Indian cricketer Virendra Sehwag was seen targeting Pakistan much before the game started, when the game was being played and even when it was done and dusted. Sehwag, whose mantra was to ‘see the ball and hit the ball’ during his playing days, believes in “not holding back” while commentating on the match as well. The veteran’s batting tactics cannot be questioned for his records are testimony to his achievements, but his approach in the commentary box is, sadly, utterly questionable.

Ranveer Singh, a Bollywood actor, joined the commentary box during the match. Into the 32nd over of the Indian innings, the conversation between Sehwag and Ranveer goes like this:

Ranveer: Bahut achha atmosphere hai yaha, neeche to bahut hi shor hai (The atmosphere here is amazing, there is a lot of noise downstairs)

Sehwag: Han, aur shor ho toh India India hi chillana chahiye. Pak-Pak toh chooza bhi chillata hai. (Yes, and if you shout, shout India-India because even a chicken shouts Pak-Pak). (Chooza, in India, is also used as a foul language among friends.)

Ranveer: Paaji, aap toh bilkul holdback nahi karte. (Sir, you don’t hold back a bit when you talk).

Sehwag: Karna bhi nahi chahiye. Ab main retire ho gaya hu, ab toh koi tension hi nahi hai. Nah Match refree hai, na BCCI. Koi ban nahi, koi match fees nahi katega. (I shouldn’t hold back either. I’ve retired now and I’ve no tensions. There is no match referee or BCCI to ban me or deduct my match fees.)

That’s one out of the many instances when Sehwag targeted Pakistan on a personal level during the match, but the drama started much before the match did. After India won a match against Bangladesh, Sehwag, on live TV, said, “Pote ko to hara diya ab bete ki baari hai” (we have defeated our grandson (Bangladesh). It’s now the turn for our son (Pakistan) to lose).

Sehwag, although ‘proudly’ not mincing any words, was not making sense on cricketing terms but the current relationship between the two nations made him an even bigger star commentator. Indian fans hailed him as the funniest commentator and the Indian media went gung-ho about it as well.

Before the much-hyped India-Pakistan encounter in the Champions Trophy on June 4, ABP News had an “explosive coverage” of the match where Sehwag and retired Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar had a “maha takkar”.

The maha-takkar, or the ultimate faceoff, revolves around Sehwag constantly insulting his counterpart from the other side of the border, Shoaib Akhtar. Sehwag claims that even the watermelon has less number of seeds than the number of problems Pakistan has against India. He even, in sheer overconfidence, says, “Bharat Pakistan ka bharta banaega” (It means, India will crush Pakistan, if you wish to derive a meaning from an utterly senseless comment), while terming the encounter as a practice match for the Virat Kohli side.

Sehwag even reiterated during the show (27th minute of the video), “Pote ko harane ke baad ab bete ki baari.” Akhtar, patiently, takes all the insults and at various juncture tries to put forth his message of peaceful and respectful relations between two nations. His words, however, fall only on the deaf ears of Sehwag and the TV anchor. At 10 minutes and 21 seconds of the news show, you can listen to a hurt Akhtar requesting Sehwag “very respectfully and humbly to not term it a practice-match affair” until the match is finished.

Sehwag not only ignores Akhtar’s request, he goes one step ahead and recommends Akhtar to buy radio in Pakistan as breaking a radio after the match would mean lesser financial losses when compared to breaking television sets after losing against India.

The most disturbing part of the story is the way the anchor is mediating, or rather adding fuel to the matter every time he can. It seemed like an irony though. Remember a Bangladesh fan photoshopped a MS Dhoni image? Or when Mushfiqur Rahim posted ecstatically after India lost to West Indies in the T-20 World Cup? The Indian media didn’t rake up the issue. It was, rightly, dismissive of all the rubbish that was going on. Shouldn’t the media have done the same when Viru was making no cricketing sense while opining about cricket? Wasn’t it a personal attack on Pakistan out of sheer hatred?

But, that’s not where the story ends. Sehwag had Pakistan as target even after the match got over, this time on the social-media site, Twitter. Sehwag, who was in no mood to stop the sea of senseless comments, tweeted:

Rashid Latif, a former Pakistani cricketer, chose to reply to Sehwag in his own, insulting manner:

Surprisingly, Sehwag’s reply to Latif’s diatribe was:

Latif’s comments did look like coming directly out of the gutter, but hadn’t Sehwag invited such comments? Had Sehwag believed in the mantra of “meaningless silence over meaningless words” that he is preaching of, then such awfully distrustful comments wouldn’t have headed his way.

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Published: 11 Jun 2017, 3:48 PM
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