Virender Sehwag is credited with changing the way openers batted in Test matches. One of the most prolific openers in Tests, Sehwag scored more than 8500 runs in 104 Tests with 23 centuries, including two triple centuries and a best of 319.
However, he wasn’t an opener from the start, having made his debut as a spinner and lower order hitter. He began opening in 2001 in ODIs and then on the tour of England in 2002, Sourav Ganguly changed everything when he told Sehwag that he would be opening in Test matches.
Sehwag revealed the story behind the incident during the launch of Bengali version of Boria Majumdar's book 'Eleven Gods and A Billion Indians' in Kolkata.
Ganguly asked Sehwag to open the innings during the tour to England in 2002. Sehwag shared that his first question to Ganguly and coach John Wright was "why me?" "They said that 'you have batted as an opener in ODIs and you have enough experience there'."
Sehwag then asked why can’t Tendulkar, who had been opening in ODIs since 1994 and Ganguly, who was opening since 1998, open the innings and he could bat in middle order.
However, Sehwag received a stern order from Ganguly saying "They said if you want to play Test cricket, this is the only place. Don't ask questions, if you want to do it (open) then do it, otherwise sit on the bench.”
Sehwag recalls, "So then I said, Dada please just promise me if I fail as an opener in 3-4 games, you will give me a game in the middle order and he said 'done'."
"After that, rest is history. In my first game I scored 84 as an opener at Lord's. Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid told me that 'you're the stupidest' and I asked why. They said nobody has scored a hundred in their first game at Lord's and you missed it. I said I at least scored 84 and I was happy with that," Sehwag added.
Sehwag also revealed a story about the NatWest series 2002 final.
"I was very confident that if English people can score 325, then we can easily chase that because they are not good in one-day cricket. We played like 30-35 one-day matches in a year, so we are a better side than them. So I told Dada 'don't worry, gore kar sakte hain to hum bhi kar sakte hain. Inhone ne hum pe raj kia hai, ab hamara mauqa hai inpe raj karne ka." (If English can do it, so can we. They have ruled us, now it's our chance to rule them),” Said Sehwag.