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A delightful and formidable opening pair

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MADE FOR EACH OTHER: Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir revel in each other’s company and Team India has prospered in the process.
MADE FOR EACH OTHER: Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir revel in each other’s company and Team India has prospered in the process.

Vijay Lokapally

Virender Sehwag and Gautum Gambhir complement each other well

NEW DELHI: They are imperious on the field but off it you need to strain your ears to catch their words. They are shy for many, introvert for some, reserved for most but certainly arrogant for none. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are just made for each other as openers and they complement each other well.

India’s success has rested of late on their fascinating starts. Their bats make booming sounds as they mock at the best of bowlers in international cricket. In the process the team prospers.

What makes them click? “Our trust,” says Sehwag. “Our understanding,” emphasises Gambhir. Gambhir adores Sehwag. “He is so helpful, so caring. He is a legend. Look at his achievements and look at his humility. He always gives more importance to what I do,” says Gambhir. “He is a tremendously talented cricketer. I have seen him grow and I know what he is capable of. I expect much, much more than what he has offered thus far,” Sehwag chips in.

Statisticians create needless debates on who qualifies to be India’s best-ever opening pair. Sehwag and Gambhir are not concerned. “We have a job to do. As long as we serve the team’s interests to the best of our abilities, there can be no greater joy,” says Sehwag.

Having played together for ONGC, Delhi and North Zone before opening for the country, they form such a delightful and formidable pair. They love to attack, fight, succeed and dominate.

Favourite cricketer

“I have learnt a lot from Viru. He is my favourite cricketer. We have gained from the time we have spent together. From understanding each other because of the constant interaction on and off the field,” observes Gambhir. “He sometimes screams at me — when I step out to fast bowlers!

Sehwag is forthcoming, “I am amazed at his hunger for runs. In domestic cricket, I have seen him concentrate so hard on getting big knocks. He is so disciplined in cricket and in life. He has not changed one bit but his game has. He will not miss an opportunity to improve and has taken his game to the next level really. He is one of the best openers I have ever seen.

“I have only tried to teach him the importance of surviving in international cricket. I have always told him don’t be satisfied with a 50 or 60. That’s the only thing I have repeatedly told him. But I have not spared him either on occasions.”

Gambhir smiles and says: “Oh! I know it too well.” He recalled how Sehwag chided him for getting out in the first innings of the Mohali Test against Australia. “He hurt me when he said I was good enough for only 50s and 60s. But then he is the only player in the team who can scold me or even scream at me.” Sehwag remembers too, “I said it in the presence of coach Gary (Kirsten).”

The response from Sehwag’s partner was a cracking century in the second innings. They had a quiet dinner just between them to celebrate the feat.

“He has now tasted the joy of hitting a century. I am sure this is a trailer of many more,” Sehwag pats his younger partner.

The trust factor is their forte. “I am always willing to sacrifice my wicket if there is a misunderstanding (when attempting the singles). And I know Gautam too does the same. We can sacrifice our wicket for each other,” says Sehwag.

Gambhir says: “Viru is the most dangerous player in the world. We enjoy each other’s company. We enjoy each other’s success. I love his shots. I love the way he drives so nonchalantly. He is the only player I love to watch bat. His company in the middle is fascinating and so enjoyable.”

In response, Sehwag quips, “I like the way he plonks his left foot way out and drives Brett Lee. I like his straight drives, sometimes they leave me and the umpire scampering.”

How do they tackle pressure? “Laugh it off,” both assert, looking ahead to entertaining their home crowd at the Ferozeshah Kotla a few days from now. Their average in 29 Test partnership innings is a whopping 63.

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