"Now my hair strands are more than your notes" - Virender Sehwag extends banter with Shoaib Akhtar
Former India international Virender Sehwag has opened up about his cheeky banter with former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.
Sehwag was an explosive opening batter for India who loved attacking the opposition from the word go. Akhtar, on the other hand, was a fiery speedster who made it a norm to clock more than 150kph.
Sehwag and Akhtar faced each other in six Tests and 10 One-Day Internationals. The Indian batter scored 241 runs off Akhtar's bowling across the two traditional formats, but was also dismissed four times by the 'Rawalpindi Express'.
The two iconic cricketers have maintained cordial relations with each other despite the political tensions between their countries. They have engaged in a lot of banter in the past, particularly when India and Pakistan faced off.
Explaining his banter and friendship with Akhtar, Sehwag told Gaurav Kapur on his show 'Breakfast with Champions':
"There's friendship and also there's so much fun in pulling each other's leg. It's not that he doesn't pull my leg. He also made a statement. 'I have more notes than the amount of hair strands Virender Sehwag has on his head.' Now my hair strands are more than your notes. A special message for Shoaib Akhtar."
"It took me seven years to be able to tackle him" - Virender Sehwag on Muttiah Muralitharan
Virender Sehwag scored 16,892 runs in 431 innings across all formats of international cricket, including 79 half-centuries and 29 centuries. Before the era of modern-day T20 cricket came into the fore, Sehwag displayed a fearless brand of cricket and was a nightmare for the best bowlers in the business at that point.
However, Sehwag was not very comfortable when it came to facing Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan. The legendary off-spinner dismissed him seven times, four times in ODIs and thrice in Tests.
On the difficulty in tackling the variations of Muralitharan, Sehwag said:
"There was only one bowler that scared me… Who I felt could get me out, one I didn't know how to tackle. That was Muttiah Muralitharan. People thought it would be Shane Warne or (Shoaib) Akhtar or Brett Lee or (Glenn) McGrath. They never could scare me that they would dismiss me. I was scared they might hit me on the body or helmet…. And McGrath would not let me score."
Sehwag further mentioned:
"This is all but with Muralitharan… I won't be able to make runs as he'd dismiss me. I could not pick his 'doosra'. So what I would do to tackle him… I began hitting to the covers whether it was off-spin or 'doosra'. He came around the wicket and started bowling at my legs. So I could not score runs. It took me seven years to be able to tackle him and score runs against him."
Sehwag announced his retirement from all formats of cricket in October 2015. He currently works as a cricket pundit and also runs a cricket academy in New Delhi.