Virender Sehwag reveals the story of Sachin Tendulkar taking strike against Pakistan in 2003 WC
When you think of the greatest opening pairs in ODI cricket, Indian cricketers are right up there. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly scored 6609 runs in 136 innings as openers while Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan scored 5148 runs in 115 innings. Then there is arguably the most entertaining pair at number 5 – Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag who managed to score 3919 runs from 93 innings.
Even after all these years, after Ganguly and Tendulkar, the opening pair of Sachin and Sehwag remains one of the most preferred opening pairs in Indian cricket. After the arrival of Virender Sehwag, he became India’s certified opener and remained so till the end. He opened the batting with Tendulkar in 2003, mostly during the World Cup in South Africa, where India finished runners-up… and the rest, as they say, is history.
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Tendulkar and Sehwag’s first real test came during the high-voltage match between India and Pakistan and as every Sachin fan would know, they hardly took the first blow. Over the years, several theories have emerged as to why Sachin decided to take the strike against Pakistan. However, a new, startling claim by Sehwag tells a different story altogether.
During an interaction on the sidelines of ILT20, Virender Sehwag said, “I was not doing well against left-arm fast bowlers. When we were playing against Wasim bhai in the 2003 World Cup, and the last over of the innings when we were fielding And I asked Sachin Tendulkar to take strike. I said, ‘Look, if Wasim bowls the first ball, I might be out.’ He (Tendulkar) said ‘no, no, I am very superstitious, my pundit ji has told me to bat at No.2.
He further added, “And I said ‘you are the No. 1 batsman in the world and you are talking about Panditji… but he said,’ no… I will bat at No. 2; you have to strike.” ‘. So, we were playing at Centurion and we had to climb a lot of stairs, so we went for lunch and then came back requesting Tendulkar. He had big earphones, removed one, on my back Slapped, and said go and pad; I will not strike. So, you know I was trying to please Tendulkar to avoid Wasim Akram.”
Having said that, somewhere between that discussion and the first ball being bowled, Sachin Tendulkar decided to take strike. Pakistan had posted a solid 273/7 batting first, and Sachin knew his team needed a bang against the likes of Wasim, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. And once he punched Akram on the backfoot to hit his maiden boundary, the world knew something special was about to happen. His 98 that day at Centurion was memorable.
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Recalling the same, Virender Sehwag said, ‘Till the 30-yard circle, I was asking him to take strike and he kept saying no. And then suddenly, I saw Sachin walking towards where the wicketkeeper was standing, and I said ‘wow, it’s my lucky day, you know’. He took the strike, he took a single on the first ball and I faced Wasim Akram on the second ball. So, I was lucky to survive but at least I didn’t play the first one.