Mumbai: On the eve of his 100th Test match, swashbuckling batsman Virender Sehwag declared that his goal is to play in the 2015 World Cup, and that the thought of retirement hasn’t crossed his mind as yet.
“My target is to retire only after playing the next World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand,” Sehwag told MAIL TODAY in an interview on Thursday.
Sehwag, who would become only the ninth Indian to appear in a century of Tests on Friday when he plays in the second Test against England, said that there’d be no dearth of motivation to play his fourth World Cup.
“To participate in a World Cup is a great honour and achievement. I’ve played in three World Cups. The whole world watches you during a World Cup and expects you to play innings that win games for your country,” said the 34-year-old batsman.
The only Indian triple Test centurion said that he was not feeling nervous on the eve of his milestone. “I don’t think I am nervous; I was waiting for this moment. When I was a kid my first dream was to play Test matches and the second one was to play 100 Test matches because there are very few people who have played 100 Tests for India,” he emphasised.
“And I am the luckiest one, though there couple of my colleagues who too are close to the mark. Zaheer Khan (86 Tests) and Harbhajan Singh (98) will, hopefully, also play their 100th Test matches very soon. So, I’m very happy and waiting for this Test match,” he said.
Sehwag’s wife, two sons and a few friends have confirmed to be at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
The Delhi dasher’s has been a roller-coaster Test journey that began when captain Sourav Ganguly prevailed upon the selectors to include him in Tests.
Sehwag lived up to Ganguly’s expectations and hammered a century on debut and went on to score two Test triple tons.
Sehwag says it was comforting to find Sachin Tendulkar at the pitch when he went in at No. 6 in Bloemfontein on his Test debut.
"The first highlight of my career the hundred on my debut. I’ll never forget that moment when I went in and Tendulkar was batting at 30 or 40-odd. He asked me in Hindi if I was having gudgudi [nervousness] in stomach. I said yes’. He then said it happens with everybody and asked me to enjoy the game and bat the way do,” he said.
"It [Sachin’s presence] helped me a lot because the bowlers were concentrating on him. They wanted Tendulkar to get out; they were not worried about Sehwag at the time. When we were building our partnership, he was guiding me. I was lucky as my role model was playing with me in the first innings of my first Test,” he said.
Sehwag disclosed that he and Tendulkar came closer when they returned to South Africa for the 2003 World Cup.
"Before that I was very shy. We used to go to the gym together in South Africa. When he asked me go with him for dinner or gym sessions, it gave me a lot of confidence and comfort. That shows that he’s also a very very good human being, and not just a good player,” he said.
Some former cricketers have at times opined that Sehwag tends become complacent because he seemed to have achieved much more than he had perhaps set out for.
“If I had become satisfied I would have retired. When a person becomes satisfied, he doesn’t run after things, doesn’t worry about and doesn’t make efforts. Everyone has his opinion. Whatever one wants – whether he is a big player a small one – he can write and say. Everything has his own thinking, but the person concerned player] actually knows the reality,” he said.
On the occasion of his 100th Test, Sehwag remembered his late father, who wanted him to play well for India, his coach since childhood, Amar Nath Sharma, and late Satish Sharma, who gave him an opportunity when he picked him for his Madras Club in Delhi league cricket.
Sehwag considers the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where he hit 195 in 2003- 04, and the Mohali Stadium, where he has scored two centuries, as his favourite venue.
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