Buccaneering opener Virender Sehwag heaped praise on his partner Gautam Gambhir after the first day's play of the second Test here. He called Gambhir “the next superstar.” Sehwag said Gambhir was India's best opener since Sunil Gavaskar.
“He can achieve what Gavaskar has achieved. He is supremely talented. I think he can score a hundred in every Test. I remember that he once scored five successive hundreds in first class cricket.”
Sehwag notched up his 16th Test hundred while Gambhir scored his eighth at Green Park on Tuesday.
On what he told Gambhir at the start of the innings, Sehwag said, “Today I just told him to think big and believe that he will score another century. There's a lot more he can achieve and he will do it in the coming years.”
Only Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid had earlier scored hundreds in four successive Tests for India. Gambhir has joined a special club.
The left-hander's run of hundreds started against Australia in the second Test at Mohali last season. Subsequently, he has missed a century in only two - in Chennai against England and at Hamilton against New Zealand - of his next eight Tests. And two of his centuries, at Napier and Ahmedabad, have been match-saving efforts.
Sehwag admitted Gambhir's batting at the other end enabled him to lift his own game on day one here. “Since Gautam was batting so well when I was not timing the ball, we could maintain a run rate of three per over. So there was less pressure on me.”
Sehwag added, “I just told myself to play watchfully in the first ten overs for there was some assistance for the pacers, some moisture on the wicket. I knew it was only a matter of time before the moisture disappeared and I could go for the big shots. So I kept telling myself to leave balls outside the off stump. Sri Lanka has three spinners and I just waited for them to be introduced. I know I'm a good player of spin.”
On batting against Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis, he said, “They bowled well but we batted better. Mendis had been effective against us in Sri Lanka. But I think we have tackled him well this time. We didn't target any particular bowler. We attacked whichever ball we felt like attacking. And there was no help for the bowlers from the wicket either.”
Dwelling more on the nature of the pitch, Sehwag said, “It looks similar to the Motera wicket, but it's slower and lower. But usually, the Kanpur wicket breaks up from the third or the fourth day. So we are planning to bat all of tomorrow and score around 700 or 800 and put them under pressure. We have done that in the past against Australia in Mohali. We made a huge first innings total and managed to get 20 wickets. The bowlers we have are capable of bowling Sri Lanka out twice.”
That was a match where Gambhir scored a match-winning hundred. It was the beginning of the southpaw's surge.