Virender Sehwag is all set to play his 100th Test today. Vijay Tagore gets him talking on the milestone. Excerpts:
So what are your thoughts on the 100th Test?
It’s a very proud moment. I’m honoured to play 100 Tests for my country. I know many cricketers who would be happy to play just one Test. Here, I’m playing my 100th! I will become the ninth man to do so in the history of Indian cricket. I feel blessed. It’s a big achievement in cricket.
Have you ever thought of this milestone?
Never. Surely not when I started my Test career! It’s a dream come true. I’m the second player from north India and the first from Delhi to play in 100 Tests.
So whom do you credit for this achievement?
The list is very long. I’ve many people to thank to. My family, my wife. My coaches AN Sharma and Satish Sharma. My seniors. Except Sachin Tendulkar, all of them are retired now. My India teammates and Ranji teammates of 1998. They are all happy for me.
How have you evolved as a cricketer since your debut in 2001?
To score big. That is a big lesson Test cricket has taught me. Over the years, I feel I’ve improved as a cricketer and have learnt to change the game according to the wicket and situation. Seniors like Sourav (Ganguly) and Sachin have contributed immensely in my learning process.
Could you talk about your best moments during this journey?
The first Test (vs South Africa at Bloemfontein) and the hundred in that Test. Then, my first triple century (309 vs Pakistan at Multan in 2004) and the second triple century (319 vs South Africa at Chennai). And now the 100th Test. If I have to pin down one century, then it has to be the second triple century. It came after I was dropped (and made a comeback).
What will be the next target?
The next target, obviously, will be 10,000 runs (Sehwag currently has 8,448 runs).
There has been talk that your reflexes have slowed down...
The media can write whatever it wants. I’ve always backed myself. More importantly, my teammates have backed my abilities. What the media is writing is not important. What the BCCI, the selectors and the teammates think of you is important. They have all backed me, through thick and thin.
Have you ever had to change your batting in Tests?
I remember a century in Adelaide (151 in 2008) where I batted one full session without hitting a boundary. The situation demanded that I stay unbeaten till tea so that we could draw the Test. Then there was an occasion in Sri Lanka (201 at Galle) in when I turned down singles so as to shield Ishant Sharma from Muttiah Muralitharan. I was on 199 then.
Do you think you need to change your style abroad?
Yes, you need to adapt and adjust to the conditions.
Who have been the difficult bowlers you have faced over the years?
A lot of them, actually. Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Flintoff, Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar.