New Delhi:He once said in jest that the only difference between him and Sachin Tendulkar was their bank balance, but Virender Sehwag, a trailblazer in his own way, said on Tuesday that as a batsman he can never be "half of what the batting maestro is".
Very early in his career, Sehwag, whose height and body structure nearly makes him a Tendulkar lookalike when they are on the wicket, had said "the only difference between us is in our bank balance. I am nowhere near him."
In fact, Sehwag arguably the most daring batsman in world cricket said in an interview that he would be honoured if Tendulkar was viewed as his 'guru'. "I would be honoured if he is viewed as my guru and I as his shishya (disciple)."
Excerpts from an interview:
First, a couple of things which are of immediate concern. How soon can India become the number one Test team of the world and your view on ICC's recent list of all-time great cricketers?
If Australia lose to South Africa in an away series next month and we do well in New Zealand, it might cost the present world champions their top spot. However, I foresee India to be a consistent world's best team by 2010. A lot of work sure still needs to be done. As for ICC's list, all of us (Team India members) are disappointed at how low they have placed Sachin Tendulkar.
We all know Tendulkar is special to you, an icon you have been compared with throughout your career and about whom you once famously said 'the only difference between us is in our bank balance'.
That quote was said in jest. Please don't take that seriously. A Virender Sehwag can never even be half of what the batting maestro is. I am nowhere near him. I grew up watching and idolizing him, his style, his shots I always tried to copy. The best I can be is to be his disciple. I would be honoured if he is viewed as my 'guru' and I as his 'shishya'.
Okay, when you view Tendulkar, what's the thing about him you wish you had?
Everything. And it's just not about his unique style of batting. It is his humility, his entire persona. I really feel his records will never be broken. For somebody to do it, he would not only need the talent and longevity but also a rare luck with injuries. And that still might not be enough! He started his career at the age of 15 plus. Somebody would have to start at 14 years! The equations you need to have in your favour to get past his 83 international centuries; nearly 30,000 runs and still counting are an impossible act.
A trait you seem to share with Tendulkar is being cool on the field. You never seem to lose your shirt in a heated battle in the middle?
It's a philosophy I have learnt from my parents. They have always emphasized: If somebody teases you, you reply with a smile or laugh. It would only irritate him further.
Sure bowlers would have tried to rile you with their tongue over the years. A fiery fast bowler, say somebody like Shoaib Akhtar?
Yes they do. I remember Shoaib Akhtar launching a fusillade of verbal barrage during my triple century in Pakistan. He kept bowling bouncers and taunting me: 'Maar, Himmat hai to ise maar' (if you have courage hit these bouncers) or 'tu sirf third man par hi shot mar sakta hai' (you can only hit in the third man area). I kept telling him: 'Yeh tu mere non-striker saathi ko bol ke dekh (You try bowling bouncers to my non-striker partner). My partner at that stage was Tendulkar. I, on my part, kept telling him: "How come I am scoring runs at third man even when you have a fielder in that region? And when I hit him straight down the ground, I told him this wasn't a shot square off the wicket!
While on Tendulkar, it was he who guided India to its biggest ever chase on home soil -- a target of 387 against England in Chennai--a few weeks ago. But it was you who had set it up on the fourth evening with a blistering 83 off 69 balls and was rightly adjudged man of the match. Did you plan that innings?
On the contrary, I didn't want to hit those fours. I kept telling Gautam (Gambhir) that I wouldn't hit fours. But they kept bowling short and I kept square cutting. And they all were fours. Out of the first eight fours, six were from square cuts. Gautam just told me to bat as I normally do. But I really didn't want to hit fours on the fourth evening! Eventually we finished the day on 133 for 1 and the platform for win was firmly established.