Mumbai: As the landmark of 100 Test matches beckons Virender Sehwag, the dashing Indian opener remembers every minute of his debut Test in Bloemfontein in South Africa 12 years ago. For every cricketer, the debut Test remains special and ‘Viru’ is not an exception.
Gulf News met Sehwag, one of the real matchwinners of Indian cricket, barely 24 hours before his milestone Test for an exclusive chat. Excerpts:
GULF NEWS: When you started at Bloemfontein, did you ever think of playing 100 Test matches?
VIRENDER SEHWAG: No, never. You cannot think long term when you are making your debut in Test cricket. But I am thrilled to know only nine Indian cricketers had reached this milestone.
Will there be any change in your batting style then from the 101st Test?
No chance. Is it possible to change your playing style at such a late stage of your career? This is my style and this has given me the opportunity to play for the 100th Test match for my country. Why should I change?
Can we expect another hundred from you in your 100th Test match?
Well, I think everybody will try to do his best to get there, especially on such a big occasion. But cricket is a great leveller. You always go to the wicket trying to reach three-figure mark. I shall try to do the same.
Looking back at your long career, do you regret missing a double hundred at Melbourne while trying to hit a six when you were batting at 195?
Absolutely not. My philosophy is simple: 100 is 100 more than a zero and a 195 is 95 more than a hundred. I try to follow this and I don’t repent.
Is there any chance for a third triple-hundred?
Quite unlikely. Firstly, you cannot score a triple-hundred at will. In Ahmedabad, even after reaching the three-figure mark, I did not go for a boundary as I was trying to go for a big innings. But I was out soon. It is really difficult to score a double now. So reaching 300 sounds the farthest but then, you just cannot predict anything in cricket. And that’s the beauty of this game.
Your body language often sends a wrong message to the watcher. It seems you are so casual in your approach…
I have always been like that. Yet, I try to score a boundary off the first delivery, even in Test matches. People will remember me for my boundaries and over boundaries, for my strokeful innings. That’s my nature, that’s my game. I don’t want to show off.
Have you ever been afraid of any bowler?
That’s something only the media can tell. I have faced Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock, Brett Lee, Andrew Flintoff, Jason Gillespie and many others who had bowled really well on their days. Now the same can be said about Dale Steyn and Mornie Morkel.
Which one do you rate as your best innings so far?
That 319. I was dropped from the team before that. Scoring a triple hundred after coming back to the Indian dressing room once again, made it really special for me.
Any other innings which has given you the most satisfaction?
A 151 at the Adelaide. India could draw the match due to that effort. I had to bat slowly to help the team earning a draw. That had never had happened before and perhaps will not happen again too. I was really satisfied at the end of that Test match.
How do you plan to celebrate the 100th Test?
My little one [his son] is not well. Yet, Arati [his wife] is scheduled to reach Mumbai. I shall try to keep things as normal as possible. I will try not be emotional. Let’s see whether I can be so!