In an interview, Virender Sehwag reveals his simple formula for success saying "I try to sing songs as perfectly as possible in order to keep my mind completely uncluttered."
He does not lose sleep before a match, he does not worry about the pitch -- Virender Sehwag just hums Sai Baba bhajans and Kishore Kumar songs till the bowler is about to deliver the ball.
Here is the dashing opener's simple formula for success in his own words: "I want my mind to be absolutely free while facing up to a bowler. I try to hum songs, Sai Baba bhajans and Kishore Kumar songs, especially those pictured on Amitabh Bachchan till the bowler is about to deliver."
"I then tell myself: watch it. I try to sing songs as perfectly as possible in order to keep my mind completely uncluttered," he said in an interview in New Delhi.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: When you look back, do you fret about why you went for a six when you were on 294 in Multan?
A: I never look back. I have never looked back on that innings. What is gone is gone, it's over.
Q: Surely a triple century ought to mean something. Not one but 2 triple centuries?
A: They don't. Surely not as much as winning a match for your team. All of us play to win. Nothing is more thrilling than winning a match for your team.
Q: What is the most important aspect of your batting?
A: For me, the most important part of batting is my still head. I try touching my helmet with my left shoulder to keep it still. Once Sunil Gavaskar asked me to take middle or off-stump guard. And I think it has suited me. With a leg stump guard, you could be chasing a wide delivery. Or leaving a gap. With a middle-and-off stump guard, the bowler doesn't know where to pitch his stuff. If it is in stumps, you could whip it to onside. If it's outside the off-stump, he is allowing you to play your favourite shots. I always take middle stump guard.
Q: Like Tendulkar who doesn't sleep before a Test match, do you also worry about bowlers and conditions and pitch?
A: I don't. I do have an idea on whom to treat with respect and who to go after. It would surprise most to know that I never look at the wicket. Never. I don't worry about whether the pitch has grass or moisture or is flat. When I captained in South Africa (when Rahul Dravid was injured in the one-day series in 2006-2007), I looked at the wicket in the first match but not thereafter.
Q: It has been said that don't give room to Sehwag; tuck him up; don't allow him free swing; post fielders at third man and sweeper cover and bowl bouncers and you would get him. But after 66 Tests and 15 centuries, they are still trying!
A: I never hook. Only recently I tried it against James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff but it was because I saw it pretty early and knew how to keep it down. The thing is, it's impossible for a bowler to bowl six deliveries in an over which rise to chest-high. The moment a bowler errs, I pounce on him.
Q: Taking quick singles is an important part of your batting style.
A: The thing is, I am exceptionally aware about the nuances of the game. I know what's happening, who is where and how to take advantage of him in the field.
Q: Even the likes of Ajantha Mendis couldn't worry you?
A: I studied him during the Asia Cup in Pakistan. Even at non-striker's end, I kept following his methods. His style when he is bowling off-spin, googly, or pushing it through middle finger. So I have no problem in attacking him. A bowler is demoralised if he knows that a batsman has read him completely. Besides, a bowler like him keeps three of four fielders close to bat. It means there are open spaces in the field. Even a mishit can give you boundaries.
Q: You don't mind hitting against the spin. Like you did to Muthiah Muralitharan over covers?
A: Unlike the accepted norm, I find hitting against the spin more profitable. It allows one to free one's arms.
Q: Eleven consecutive scores of over 150? Sure such long innings must be a big ask on your forearms and legs?
A: I follow a very strict regimen of fitness.
Q: You feel India could be ruling the world by 2010. But we no longer have Anil Kumble?
A: Kumble was in a league of his own. It's impossible to get a bowler like him. In his absence, Harbhajan Singh is our frontline spinner. On foreign pitches, it would be three pacers and Harbhajan. So there would be added responsibility on him. He is now sufficiently experienced and one hopes he would rise to the occasion.