Former India opener Virender Sehwag remains one of the best opening batters to play for the national team. His attacking mindset set him apart from the others. The Delhi batter has two triple-centuries to his name in the longest format. however, there was a period when Sehwag was out-of-favour from the selectors. He was even dropped during the 2007 season. However, he made a comeback in the 2007-08 India-Australia series. He has now revealed how then skipper Anil Kumble helped him.
“Suddenly, I realised I was not part of the Test side; it hurt. I would have ended with 10,000+ Test runs had I not been dropped for that period,” said Sehwag on Sports18 show ‘Home Of Heroes’.
In the 2007-08 Australia tour, Sehwag did not feature in the first two Tests, which India lost. He made his comeback in the third Test at Perth, in which India went on to register a remarkable win.
“Score a 50 in this match, and you will be picked for the match in Perth,” Sehwag said while remembering the words of the then skipper Kumble ahead of a warm-up game. Sehwag had scored a ton before lunch in the match against ACT Invitation XI. Sehwag then played in Perth, gave a good start at the top in both innings, and took two wickets.
But it was in Adelaide, the fourth Test when he announced his arrival, but not in typical Sehwag fashion. A 63 in the first innings was followed by an uncharacteristic but match-saving 151 in the second at Adelaide.
“Those 60 runs were the toughest I scored in my life. I was playing to repay the faith Anil Bhai put in me. I did not want anyone to question him for bringing me to Australia. I was focused on the striker’s end; on the other end, I spoke to the umpire, humming my favourite songs. The pressure was gone,” said Sehwag.
After the tour, Kumble made Sehwag a promise. “As long as I am the Test team captain, you will not be dropped from the side. That’s what a player yearns for the most, the confidence of his captain. I got that from Ganguly in my initial years and from Kumble later,” said Sehwag.
During the Sydney Test in 2007-08, Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds were involved in a heated argument. Symonds had alleged that Harbhajan made racial slurs, and this saw Harbhajan receiving a ban. Although, it was overturned, India had indeed talked about returning home as they thought the ban was unfair.
“If Anil Bhai had not been the captain, the tour would have discontinued, and probably Harbhajan Singh’s career would have ended too,” said Sehwag.
Sehwag eventually played seven Tests under the leadership of Kumble averaging over 62 after the Australia tour. Under Kumble, Sehwag went on to register scores of 319 against South Africa and 201 not out against Sri Lanka. He also claimed his best bowling figures in a Test of 5/104 in Kumble’s last Test as a captain and player both.
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