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‘Beauty of Viru’s game is that he keeps it simple’

- A TELEGRAPH SPECIAL
- VVS Laxman on buddy Sehwag
V.V.S. Laxman

Mumbai: V.V.S. Laxman spoke to The Telegraph at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel on Thursday afternoon.

The following are excerpts

Q Virender Sehwag, one of your closest mates, makes his 100th Test appearance on Friday. Your thoughts?

A Well, Viru will be joining an exclusive club... I’ve already wished him, at the dinner after the BCCI’s function on Wednesday... I’m sure he won’t forget the Mumbai Test in a hurry.

You’re also in that club...

I consider myself fortunate.

What would you like Sehwag to do?

(Laughs) Get a hundred in his 100th Test! Viru’s capable of obliging.

How would you describe Sehwag’s journey from Bloemfontein to Mumbai?

Viru’s been amazing... You don’t argue with such figures... An average of almost 51 in Test cricket, two triple centuries... Over 8,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs... He’s been a special player.

What do you remember most about Sehwag’s hundred on Test debut (Bloemfontein)?

The quality of his batting... Under pressure, at No.6 (India were four down for 68), Viru scored a superb 105 against a good attack. He’d been in form in the ODIs, too, before the Test series... He’d been very aggressive.

Sehwag hasn’t changed...

No, he hasn’t... Viru still bats the same way. He’s not only special, but a pure entertainer... His batting is entertainment. It’s good to have such figures as Viru, but look at the manner in which he has got those runs.

What, for you, has been most incredible about Sehwag’s batting in Test cricket?

That, for somebody with his style, he has two triple centuries. He was terrific both in Multan and in Chennai. The beauty of Viru’s game is that he keeps it simple. His is an uncluttered game and he knows what he wants to do. Whether he’s in form or not, his game doesn’t change. I find that remarkable.

Anything else?

The way Viru gets his runs demoralises the opposition. It’s with ease that he can put even the good balls away for fours, leaving the bowlers confused. The bowler can’t fathom whether he actually bowled a bad ball or the quality of Viru’s batting made the difference.

But haven’t there been times when Sehwag has got carried away, landing the team in a crisis?

That’s the way Viru is. You have to accept the package.

How is Sehwag as a person?

Very simple, an uncluttered person... The way he bats is the way he is. Over the years, I haven’t seen him change... Viru’s an unselfish person.

Did you take Sehwag into confidence before announcing your retirement?

I did call him... I tried to call as many teammates as I could... Viru asked me to hold on, to not make the announcement... To wait for the team to assemble in Hyderabad (for the first Test against New Zealand) the next day... He’d been taken aback.

But you’d made up your mind...

(Almost interrupting) With difficulty, yes... I didn’t wish to wait for my teammates to assemble and make it more difficult for me emotionally.

The final one... Sehwag was one of the four invitees for dinner at your place in the lead-up to that series. That captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hadn’t been invited became a major issue for many in the media. What was your reaction?

I was very hurt... I’d invited Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and Viru because when we played in Mumbai or Delhi, I’d often go to their homes... I would have loved to invite the team, but that wasn’t possible as our new house was still being made ready. The twist given by the media really hurt... People talked about a “late-night bash...” You know me, I don’t have late nights... I must add that MS and I share a very good relationship.