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Since 1st March, 1999
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I live in the present, says Virender Sehwag
SEHWAG: ĎI showed shot-making has a place in Test cricketí
- 'Sourav assesses a player very quickly and, then, gets the best out of him'
Sehwag: 'I showed shot-making has a place in Test cricket'

Durban: With just one fifty (66 against Sri Lanka) in nine World Cup matches, itís been a disappointing tournament for Virender Sehwag. Yet, he is determined to come good in the semi-finals and, assuming India make the final, in that title-round.

Always the quiet sort, Sehwag spoke to The Telegraph at the Holiday Inn Elangeni, Tuesday evening. While his ODI debut was in April 1999, he has been a regular only since March 2001.

The following are excerpts

On the past two years, since his comeback in the home (one-day) series versus Australia

Waise to main khush hoon, but I havenít been consistent... Today, Iím working towards that... Iím told experience helps in getting consistent and, so, the more I play the better my chances. As a person, though, Iím the same seedha-sadha Veeru.

On whether this lack of consistency is adding to the pressures of international cricket

No, itís a personal thing... I want to be consistent, I want to make a bigger contribution... Whether you score or you donít, the pressure remains. International cricket is all about pressure.

On the lessons learnt

That, cricket-wise, I must be prepared to adjust... That, on the personal front, Iíve got to accept spending less and less time at home... That friends ke saath kam time milega.

On being out through injuries twice in the last two years

But, then, can injuries be avoided' (After a pause) When one gets injured, the effort is towards a quick recovery. Of course, itís a big test of mental toughness.

On being asked to open, for the first time, during the tri-series in Sri Lanka (July-August 2001)

Initially, I did have doubts of my own ó would I be able to deliver' Would I be able to adjust' However, I told myself two things: If I was a good batsman, I should have the ability to bat anywhere and, secondly, the captain and coach must have seen something, which made them ask me to open... I backed myself and, as it turned out, scored a crucial 100 against New Zealand. (Adds smiling) The innings taught me that in one-day cricket, itís best to open... That you have the advantage of the first 15 overs... That, potentially, you can bat for all 50...

On his Test debut (Bloemfontein, November 2001)

I was keen to prove a point as a lot of people had begun talking of me as being good for one-day cricket only... Aur, phir, mujhe khud ko dikhana tha ki main Test bhi khel sakta hoon... I went for my shots, something Iím most comfortable doing, and showed shot-making has a place in Test cricket.

On getting that 105 on debut

Iíll credit my idol, Sachin Tendulkar... That I got the hundred in his presence made it more special... After all, Sachin is the bhagwan of cricket... He kept guiding me... Helped me through the many moments of pressure. [Sachin, too, got a hundred: 155.]

On comparisons with Sachin

I quite enjoy it... In any case, who will mind being compared to the No.1' Mujhe koi takleef nahin hoti hai... Fact is, Iím nowhere near Sachin... I just keep trying to learn from him.

On whether he has consciously tried to Ďcopyí any one Sachin shot

The straight drive.

On getting to open in Tests too, during last yearís tour of England

It did require much mental preparation... It required a disciplined approach, required a perfect understanding of the off-stumpís location... In a one-dayer, you can get away with a temporary loss in concentration as thereís no close-in cordon... You wonít find three-four slips and... In Test cricket, though, any lapse is bound to be fatal. Usi innings mein aap phir comeback nahin kar sakte.

On, generally, whether he will be comfortable in the middle-order

Dekhiye, upar se neeche aane mein koi mushkil nahin hai... It can become difficult if a No.6 is asked to open. But, as Iíve said, the best place in ODIs is at the very top.

On deciding to play for Leicestershire this summer

I didnít want to sit at home for five-six months, thatís why I decided to have a taste of County cricket... Iím sure there will be plenty to learn, both on and off the field, and (at 24) itís the right time to learn. Iím aware there will always be pressure to perform, but thatís a challenge Iím looking forward to...When the County is going to pay well, it will obviously want results...I accept that as the overseas professional, Iíll be under more pressure than any other player...(After a pause) Consistency there should help me become consistent in international cricket as well.

On specifically opting to head for Grace Road

Thatís because Leicestershire offered the best terms and facilities. Plus, Leicester has a huge number of Indian expats and, so, support wonít ever be lacking. At this moment, however, Iím not thinking of County cricket...I live in the present, therefore, my thoughts are on the World Cup.

On not being able to capitalise on the many starts in the World Cup

Hasnít frustrated me but, yes, mujhe patient rehna ho ga. Iím determined to make a mark in the semi-finals and, God willing, in the final as well.

On his interaction with Sandy Gordon

I didnít have much to ask him. Indeed, I didnít reveal my own expectations...Thatís something very personal.

On always having Sourav Ganguly and John Wrightís backing

Such faith helps the emerging players. Sourav, specially, favours giving youngsters a decent run... Favours giving them opportunities to settle down. My own belief is that he assesses a player very quickly and, then, gets the best out of him.

Finally, on what makes Team India tick

(Smiles again) The hunger to succeed, the commitment of every single player and the understanding between seniors and juniors. Yeh kabhi nahin hota ki koi naye player ko koi uncomfortable feeling ho ... Itís a very happy dressing room.

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