Virender Sehwag recalled the time when he was dropped from the Indian team and how Anil Kumble being the captain helped him revive his career. Often considered one of the greatest openers in the longest format of the game, Sehwag was dropped for a year from the Indian team.
After playing his 52nd Test in Jan. 2007, Sehwag played his 53rd after a year in Australia. And that 53rd Test match came during the tumultuous 2007-08 Border-Gavaskar Trophy down under when Anil Kumble was the Indian captain.
“Suddenly, I realized I was not part of the Test side; it hurt. I would have ended with 10,000+ Test runs had I not been dropped for that period,” Sehwag told Sports18.
For the first time since April 2007, Sehwag’s inclusion in the Test team for the 2007-08 Australia tour for the Border-Gavaskar trophy surprised many. Picked on a gut by skipper Anil Kumble, Sehwag, though, did not start the first two Tests that India lost.
Sehwag recalled that Kumble told him to score a 50 in the practice match in Canberra before the third Test and he will be included in the XI for the match in Perth. Sehwag scored a hundred before lunch in the match against ACT Invitation XI. As promised, Sehwag played in Perth, gave a good start at the top in both innings, and took two wickets.
But Sehwag’s best came in Adelaide Test when he made an uncharacteristic match-saving 151 in the second innings after scoring 63 in the first outing.
“Those 60 runs were the toughest I scored in my life. I was playing to repay the faith Anil Bhai put in me. I did not want anyone to question him for bringing me to Australia. I was focused on the striker’s end; on the other end, I spoke to the umpire, humming my favorite songs. The pressure was gone,” he recalled.
Sehwag then remembers Kumble promising him that he will not be dropped from the team until he remains the captain.
“As long as I am the Test team captain, you will not be dropped from the side. That’s what a player yearns for the most, the confidence of his captain. I got that from Ganguly in my initial years and from Kumble later,” Sehwag says.
Kumble’s stewardship brought out the best of Sehwag which included a career-best 319 against South Africa and 201* against Sri Lanka. Like an icing on the cake, Sehwag claimed his best bowling figures in a Test of 5/104 in Kumble’s last Test as a captain and player both.
Sehwag also revealed that had Kumble not being the captain of the Indian team, the 2007-08 tour of Australia would have ended after the infamous monkey-gate scandal in Sydney Test and spinner Harbhajan Singh’s career would also have ended, as he was accused of racism by Andrew Symonds.
“If Anil Bhai had not been the captain, the tour would have discontinued and probably Harbhajan Singh’s career would have ended too,” Sehwag says.
(Sports 18 inputs)