Virender Sehwag reveals how former captain Sourav Ganguly convinced him to open batting for India
Virender Sehwag had started out as a middle-order batsman for India before Sourav Ganguly decided to use him as an opener in what proved to be a masterstroke from the former Indian captain. Sehwag, who is regarded as one of the most explosive openers of all time, recently revealed why Ganguly promoted him as an opener and what made him accept his captain's proposal.
Sehwag made his international debut for India in April 1999 in an ODI against Pakistan under Ajay Jadeja's captaincy. However, he blossomed as a swashbuckling opener under Ganguly, who had a huge role to play in shaping the former batsman's international career. Sehwag revealed it was Ganguly's belief in him and the backing which gave him the confidence to open for India.
"I often get asked this question: How did I become an opener from a middle-order batsman? Dada had a big role to play in my shift to the top of the order. It all started with him asking me to open. My reaction was simple: “Why aren’t you opening, even you open, even Sachin opens?" wrote Sehwag in a column.
"He explained to me that the opening slot was vacant, so if I take it, my place in the side will be guaranteed. But in case I was against the idea and wanted to stick to the middle order, he explained, I would have to wait for someone to get injured. But what convinced me was his very practical suggestion that he was to give me later. He said, “I will give you three to four innings as an opener. Even if you fail, you will continue to play. And before I drop you, I will again give you a chance in the middle (order)," he added.
The decision from Ganguly to try Sehwag as an opener worked wonders for Indian cricket as the right-hander went on to establish his credentials as one of the most destructive opening batsmen of the modern era. Sehwag amassed 7518 runs in ODIs and 8586 runs in Tests respectively as an opener.
Sehwag stated that it was Ganguly's faith in him which made him believe he can bat at the top of the order. "It was a very fair treatment. It’s this clarity that makes a player trust his captain. That gave me a lot of confidence. I thought, Dada is backing me so much, so let me try. Whatever I am today, it is because of him," he wrote.