Sehwag was whistling as we began chasing 325 in NatWest Trophy final, says Ganguly

As Virender Sehwag quits international cricket, Sourav Ganguly, the man under whose captaincy he made his Test debut, analyses what made Sehwag a true great who revolutionised the opener’s role in Tests.

In my book, along with Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag is one of the greatest opening batsmen the world has seen. Viru was not as technically gifted as Gavaskar, but his transformation from a middle-order batsman to a successful opener and the loads of runs he scored both home and overseas bear testimony to his unique craftsmanship with the willow.

In fact, he went on to revolutionise the opener’s role with his aggressive approach. What set him apart was his mindset. He always backed himself to take on bowlers, irrespective of their reputation. He has been criticised for taking undue risks at times and getting out, but if the ball landed in his ‘zone’, he would back himself to hit it to the boundary, or beyond. I remember Viru hit ting a six to get to a hundred and send the ball over the rope to get to a double hundred.

His confidence stemmed from a deep-rooted belief in his own ability. I will never forget the NatWest Trophy final. When the two of us were walking out to chase England’s 325, Sehwag was whistling. I was tense and told him to focus on the task. He told me, ‘Captain, we will win this game’!

Sehwag didn’t dabble too much into technique because he liked to keep things simple. Yet, he had the basics right. The head was always still and the still and the bat always came down straight. I have been privileged to see some of his best knocks and I would rate his century against England on a green top at Trent Bridge in 2002 as his best in Test cricket. The manner in which he negotiated Hoggard, Harmison and Flintoff’s swing convinced me that he had it in him to be a top-class opener.

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