New Delhi:It is going to be difficult for India to become the number one side in the world and sustaining that position will be even more difficult, according to flamboyant opener Virender Sehwag.
Australia's 2-0 loss in the recent home series against South Africa has suddenly opened up a three-horse race for the top slot and India, thanks to their 2-0 triumph over Ricky Ponting's men late last year, are also among the contenders. Sehwag said the task would not be easy.
"I think it's going to be difficult to become the number one side because we still have Australia and South Africa ahead of us. And as the saying goes, sustaining your place at the top is always more difficult than reaching there," Sehwag told reporters during the an award ceremony on Friday.
"As of now, if we win the series against New Zealand, we might have a chance to become the number one. But once you get there, you have to make sure that you don't lose a match and a series. So it will be quite difficult to sustain," he said, before hastily adding "But we are ready for the challenge."
Winner of Cricinfo's Test Batting Performance of the Year for his 201 not out against Sri Lanka in the Galle Test last year, Sehwag paid rich tributes to Glenn McGrath and Muttiah Muralitharan and said there was no other bowler he could not hit for a four whenever he wanted.
"I always dreamt of playing against McGrath but got just one series at home. There I found I could not hit him for a boundary whenever I wanted, he kept such tight line and length", he said.
"Against Murali too, I realised you have to wait for a bad ball or find a vacant area to hit a four," Sehwag said. "Otherwise there is not a bowler whom I cannot hit for a four if I want," he said nonchalantly.
Interestingly, Sehwag didn't rate Ajantha Mendis that high and said he hardly had any trouble against the Lankan mystery spinner.
"To be honest, during the Lanka tour, I was more worried about Murali and his doosra," Sehwag said.
Asked by moderator Sanjay Manjrekar how he played Mendis that easily when the senior batsmen floundered, Sehwag said, "During that knock, I was picking his deliveries off the hand and got to know which ball he would bowl".
"Besides, I was attacking him as well. When you attack a bowler, it creates doubt in his mind. I was hitting him through covers and picked his googly and off-spin quite well, hitting him through long on and deep mid-wicket.
"I was backing myself and when I back myself, I can hit boundaries at will, no matter where you station the fielders," he said.
Looking back, Sehwag rated the 201 not out he scored against Sri Lanka as the best knock of his career, better than the twin triple hundreds.
"So many people ask me which one is my best knock and I point to this one. I carried my bat through to emulate Sunil Gavaskar", he said.
"Both my triple centuries in Pakistan and Chennai came on good tracks and I could feel on both occasions that the opposition simply didn't have it in them to get me out. But here we were losing wickets regularly and still I managed to stay not out," Sehwag said.
Sehwag has not put a foot wrong since his comeback to the side but the swashbuckling opener dismissed suggestions that it had any major affect on his batting philosophy.
"You have seen me play after the comeback and I don't think you see any change in my approach. Of course the mindset has changed a bit. I knew I had to prove myself again and in one match, there was a full session when I didn't hit a single four. Besides, I gave due respect to the new ball," he explained.
Admitting it was not easy to sit out and watch the match on television, Sehwag said, "It really hurt me. One day I was sitting with my wife and watching the team play when she said 'had you been in the team, we would have been in England and not in Najafgarh'. She was right and it hurt me," Sehwag said.
The opener was quick to dispel notions that he became overweight which affected his batting at that stage.
"When you don't score runs, people talk about your weight, footwork and other things. Look at Inzamam(-ul-Haq) and the runs he scored.
"I was 80kg then and I'm 78 now. In fact it was in 2007 that I put on weight and weighed 85kg. I had to bring it down," he said.
"That's why I don't listen to people, don't watch TV and don't read newspapers. It's better to use the time to work on your game," said the batsman.