We all know what unique character former India opener and captain Virender Sehwag was as a player and is as a social media guru. The brashness and self-confidence in his talking and the way he played has entertained all of us for years now.
Sehwag was part of the Fab Five of the golden era of Indian batting and one of the members of that elite group was VVS Laxman, who recently launched his autobiography ‘281 and Beyond’.
Recalling the confidence of Sehwag VVS writes, “First, a confession. I am an unabashed admirer of Viru. Actually, make that two confessions. When I first saw him bat, I didn’t think he had it in him to be consistently successful at the highest level.”
VVS further writes, “Viru’s unique talent expressed itself during the 2001 ODI series against Australia. In the first match in Bangalore, he blasted 58, took three wickets with his off-spin, and was the man of the match.”
“Out of the blue, Viru told me, ‘Laxman bhai, you had a great opportunity to make a triple hundred in the Kolkata Test, but unfortunately, you didn’t. Now you wait and watch, I will become the first Indian to score 300 in Test cricket.”
VVS writes about his reaction and says, “My jaw dropped and I stared at him in astonishment. This guy had played just four ODIs, wasn’t anywhere close to Test selection, and here he was, making the most outrageous of claims. For a second, I thought he was joking, but Viru was dead serious. To be honest, I didn’t know what to make of it.”
Talking about Sehwag’s preparations for a match, VVS writes, “Viru’s preparation was unlike anything the rest of us did. He kept things to a bare minimum. I have never seen him over-prepare. He would bat in the nets, take his quota of catches, and then retire to the dressing room — no extra throw-downs, no additional knocking. He semi-mocked us: ‘You must play more balls in the match, not at practice.’ You can’t argue with that logic, not when it worked so often for him.”
Sehwag proved everyone, who doubted his abilities, wrong and became the first Indian to score a triple hundred in Tests, against Pakistan in Multan in 2004.
VVS writes, “After the Multan triple hundred, he came up to me and laughed, ‘I told you so, VVS.’ I couldn’t have been happier that my 281 had been surpassed. For a country that had given the world so many great batsmen, not having a triple centurion was an aberration. Viru set that record straight. It had taken him less than three years to translate his prophecy into reality.”
Furthermore, Sehwag even explained to him why he was so confident of scoring a triple hundred. VVS writes, “I was curious to know where he had got the confidence from to make that prediction in Pune. ‘In order to get to a triple, you have to score very quickly, VVS,’ he explained, as if to a child. ‘You need to play a lot of shots and get your runs very quickly. In this Indian team, I didn’t see anyone else doing that.’ It was said not with arrogance, but from an understanding of his game and inherent intelligence. He knew that he had a better chance than anyone else of getting to 300 because of the nature of his game, high-risk but also high-reward, as the records indicate.”
(Excerpts from VVS Laxman’s autobiography “281 and Beyond” via Times of India)