There is a cool and collected side to the Nawab of Najafgarh, finds out Anuj Kumar
I have already lost half my hair; I don’t want to lose the rest contemplating who is saying what about my technique.”
It is this simplicity which defines Virender Sehwag on and off the field. After a gruelling practice session at the new look Ferozeshah Kotla before the IPL semi final, we found Viru, as he is affectionately called, in a reflective mood.
Going back in time, his partner in the Kotla journey used to be Ashish Nehra. “After the first Ranji season I bought an LML Vespa. Whoever rode pillion had to handle the heavy kits.”
Viru, who still lugs his own kit bag, says it surprises him how young players ask others to carry their kits. “You have to respect your equipment. It is this equipment which makes your sporting life.”
Today Viru drives a BMW. “I could have bought it three or four seasons back but I believed I didn’t deserve it then. So I continued driving my Santro. I firmly believe in living a life you deserve notwithstanding your bank-balance. This helps in concentrating on the career. I came from a joint family, and my father was a grain merchant. He gave me a free hand till I completed my graduation. After that he expected me to join his business. But before completing graduation, I was playing international cricket. From the beginning I knew that if I continue playing well nobody could stop me. Money would come my way automatically if I excelled at cricket. A semi-urban background or lack of English speaking skills never gave me any complex because these things don’t matter on the ground.”
At the same time, he thanks Sachin Tendulkar for helping him in handling the media and the common man. “I was touched when he said that it gives him satisfaction when he is able to put a smile on faces.”
But we thought it is songs that help him ease the pressure on the pitch.
“They do. When I sing, and it doesn’t matter which over of the innings it is, I concentrate on the lyrics and it takes me away from the pressure situation. Of course, the runs required and balls remaining are always there at the back of the mind. It is something which has got formatted in my mind after playing for years.” His songs could be from films or devotional. “My all time favourite is Chala Jata Hoon Kisi Ki Dhun Main, but during the IPL I’m singing Om Sai Nath.” Another thing that helps him is meditation.
“I do deep breathing for around 20 minutes every day.”
Viru says he was always a mama’s boy and it is not a creation of the media. “My father was usually out on work. It was my mother who used to take care of the household and the kids.” When he was six, he broke his tooth while playing cricket. “My father decided I would not touch the bat again but it didn’t solve the issue as I cried the entire day. Then my mother intervened and I was allowed.”
Things have changed after marriage as his wife Aarti now controls the kitchen. “After marriage Aarti told me to concentrate on cricket and said she would take care of home. Her interest in cricket lasts as long as I am at the crease. She doesn’t advise me on cricket but she does give me tips on fitness.” Not a party person, Viru loves watching films and listening to music. His favourites are Amitabh Bachchan and Kishore Kumar. Whenever he goes on a tour, his kit is full of CDs. “Shah Rukh is the current superstar but nobody can better Amitbah Bachchan. I wish to catch Sarkar Raj.” He promises to continue with his fearless ways on the pitch and to those who call it reckless, he points out his triple centuries. “I know some players with a better technique ending their careers with half the matches I have played. But, it doesn’t disturb me. The day I feel my hand-eye coordination is not working, I will retire.” Simple!