Former India wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra believes that the credit of Virender Sehwag’s promotion to the top of the order in the ODIs should go to Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
“Sachin was doing so well as an opener at that time but Sehwag had to open. So Sachin offered to bat at No.4. Sehwag then opened with Dada (Sourav Ganguly) for that left and right combination. If Sachin hadn’t agreed then Viru probably would have had to bat lower. He wouldn’t have got the chance to open in ODIs and the story could have been a lot different,” said Ratra in a chat with Hindustan Times.
It was in 2001, in an ODI against New Zealand that Ganguly, due to circumstances that had arisen, decided to push Sehwag up the order.
But the innings did not turn out that good for Sehwag as he scored only 33 from 54 balls. But the move paid dividends two matches later as Sehwag struck a ton finally.
Ratra also revealed that for the common good of the team, Sachin decided to bat lower down the order.
“Sachin took a different role. He volunteered to bat at No.4.He did it for the side. His role was then to bat till the 45th over. And the move worked, Viru became so successful at the top,” said Ratra, who was part of the Indian side when all the transition at the top was taking place in 2002.
Then this change reaped India many benefits, and the biggest of them all was winning the Natwest Trophy final in 2002, where Sehwag and Ganguly opened the innings.
“A lot of the times, Viru is called unconventional but if his natural instinct was stopped then it might have been a different story. So Viru had the support to go for his shots and had that liberty. It is very important to back these players. Yes, people used to advise him when he used to play bad shots but he was never told to change his game,” Ratra added.
Sehwag ended his career and one of the best openers for India in Tests and ODIs both. As an opener, he scored 7518 runs, which is more than 90% of his career aggregate of 8273 runs. Also, 14 out of his 15 tons in ODIs came as an opener.