An evening with Virender Sehwag
An opportunity presented itself to attend a launch of a Cricket theme Debit Card by a British Bank on the eve of the India Pakistan clash. Now watching a cricket match on a giant screen with some free booze thrown in is not a very attractive proposition anymore. That too in a hall full of strangers. But the promised presence of Viru and Cheeka at the event, made the opportunity golden.
The opportunity was gleefully accepted with both hands, much unlike Viraat Kohli and a few other Indian batters, who on the same day threw it away against Pakistan.
After undergoing the trauma of an inane cricket quiz session where the height of a cricket stump was pegged at 38 cm instead of the universally accepted 28 inches, one could understand the veracity of that famous statement, ‘there’s no gain without pain’. Another revelation to the ignorant mind was that Kapil was named ‘The Wisden Cricketer of the Century’. Given such startling cricket fact inventions, it was a foregone conclusion that the mind would wander away from the quiz into a slumber. But all bad things must come to an end and so did the quiz.
The bank had partnered with Cheeka’s son’s company to organise the event. One has always wondered about the many hats donned by the Chief Selector. Private events organised with a current player, active participation in the CSK team and being the chief selector at the same time, obviously presents many situations of conflicting interests. Everyone seems to be glossing over the fact and one decided to raise this rather pertinent question at some other forum.
Enter Veeru and Srikkanth amid the audience applause. Veeru was looking leaner and fitter than one has ever witnessed. With the entire media contingent present in its full glory, one expected an interesting session of play. Veeru started the proceedings by admitting that he was not exactly a terrific speaker and wished luck to the new product. On his assessment of the impending Indo-Pak match, he came up with the classic, “Whoever plays better on the day, will win today”. Cheeka was his usual bumbling self, making statements like, “Slowly, quite fast we are getting there”.
Having read the Sehwag interview a few days back on Cricinfo, one felt sure, that he would be grilled on his “captaincy” statements and Upton’s lately released dossier. He neatly sidestepped the K-Sutra related questions by saying that he hadn’t received the dossier. On being asked a long question in English, he joked that since he wasn’t very good at English, would the interviewer translate it in Hindi. If ever, a guy’s batting is an extension of his personality, Sehwag will be at the top of that list.
“I don’t change my style of play whether I am playing Tests, T20s or ODIs. If I get a bad ball, I hit it”, familiar words from the dasher. “I don’t have a game plan when I walk into bat. I like to keep my mind blank”, a quote one had read in the Cricinfo interview.
He was hopeful of a come back in the upcoming Champions League and being fully fit for the Australia ODI series. He was categorical in denying the statement accorded to him that he didn’t want the Indian captaincy. His reason for stepping down from the DDD captaincy was that he had captained them for 2 years and they never made it even to the finals. It was more to see if the team’s luck changed under a new captain. This statement was not followed up with the rather logical question about whether he thought that winning a T20 championship was more a matter of the captain’s luck than the captain’s cricketing acumen. That would be an interesting debate, which was missed by the media.
When asked his take on a chaseable total, his reply was, “Anything under 300”. “If Sachin said so, we should go for it”, when asked about his views on SRT’s proposed ODI format.
Srikkanth mentioned that Malcolm Marshall and Wasim Akram were the two bowlers he found difficult. He would not go into naming the youngsters, he thought, who the selection committee found promising. He was asked questions that were directed to him as the head selector, which he wasn’t, at the function. Stalemate it was, indeed.
The audience questions were full tosses.
What was his birth date? Easy pickings for him.
What does he like more? ODIs or T20s?
“I like Test cricket the most”. Touche.