‘Score runs, else I won’t be able to play you again’: How Sourav Ganguly’s ultimatum worked wonders for Virender Sehwag

Former India opener Aakash Chopra has revealed an incident when Sourav Ganguly told Virender Sehwag that the batsman needed to score runs else the captain would have no other choice than to drop him. The instance Chopra is referring to probably took place ahead of the second Test between India and New Zealand in Mohali in October 2003.

Sehwag had gone nine innings without a half-century and as per Ganguly, it was make-or-break time for the opener. Chopra, who had made his debut in the previous Test in Ahmedabad, revealed how Ganguly’s words played out well for everyone as Sehwag responded with a brilliant 130. It was Sehwag’s first Test century in almost a year, following his innings of 147 and 61 against West Indies a year ago in Mumbai and Chennai respectively.

“Viru, after scoring lot of runs initially, had a big dry patch very early in his career. Sourav Ganguly had gone to Viru and told him to make runs that day else he would not be able to play him again. Fortunately, he scored a century in that game. Sourav Ganguly backed a lot,” Chopra said during the Cric Cast show on YouTube.

Ganguly gave Sehwag his break in international cricket by making him open in Tests. Ganguly even sacrificed his opener’s lot in ODIs for Sehwag as India found a deadly opening combination in him in Sachin Tendulkar. Chopra feels one of Ganguly’s many strengths was to back the players he believed in. Besides Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh enjoyed Ganguly’s backing earlier in his career, who after kicking off his India career with scores of 84 and 41 in the first two games, went 16 innings without a half-century.

“I remember that Yuvraj Singh had a stretch of 18-20 innings when he didn’t score a half-century,” Chopra said.

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