'I would love to bat in the middle order'
He is one of most destructive batsmen in contemporary cricket, and all his achievements have come as an opener. Yet, surprisingly, Virender Sehwag revealed that he would like to bat in the middle order.
Initially billed as a player strictly suited for limited-overs cricket, he has plundered 6,312 runs in 71 Tests as an opener, at an average of 54.88 and an amazing strike rate of 81.89. His successes have come in all conditions and against all opposition, and include 18 hundreds and 19 half-centuries.
But, amazingly, he desires to play in the middle order; he believes that it is a bit easier batting in that slot since middle order batsmen get time to relax ahead of their turn.
"I would love to bat in the middle order because it is difficult to field for one-and-half days and then open the innings after a ten-minute break. I also want to bat at number six like [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni, so I can also get two hours to rest.
That way, even my back would be fine and my exhaustion would go away too, which would help me score more runs and play bigger innings," Sehwag said at the ESPNcricinfo awards in Jaipur on Friday.
Image: Virender Sehwag
'I want to bat at number four'
Asked whether he would have achieved as much success in the middle order, he replied: "Maybe, I would have scored more runs in the middle order. Definitely, I would have got opportunities to score runs in the middle order, because the batsmen who have batted after me in the middle order have also scored lot of runs and it is not that they have not had chances to bat."
The dashing opener won the Test batting prize for the second straight year for his blistering innings of 293 against Sri Lanka in Mumbai in December.
And fully aware that it is difficult to break into the supremely talented Indian middle order comprising greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, the Delhi opener believes his chance will come soon, when any one of them hangs his boots.
Asked which position he would love to bat at, his reply was instant: "I want to bat at number four."
'I don't think I am on the same level as Tendulkar'
He further added, though in a lighter vein, that he is just waiting for his hero and mentor to quit Test cricket so that he can take his place.
"But till he [Sachin Tendulkar] retires I don't think I will get a chance. I am just waiting for him to retire [smiles]. And when he does retire I would immediately want to bat at number four after him."
Despite achieving so much success and batting in the same fashion as Tendulkar used to in his prime, Sehwag still believes he cannot be compared with the master batsman.
"I don't think I am on the same level as Tendulkar. It is not only me, but every child in the country wants to become Sachin Tendulkar when he grows up. But I don't think that is possible because the number of records he has broken, no one will be able to match it, not only from India but anywhere in the world. No one will break his records, I am sure," he said.
'I have never seen the wicket in my life before a Test or ODI'
The 31-year-old also made an astonishing disclosure that he has never gone and inspected the pitch ahead of any match.
"I have never seen the wicket in my life before a Test or ODI. Even when I became the captain of the Indian team I never went and saw the wicket. So somebody asked if you have not seen the team how will you pick your team? And I said that if you are playing in South Africa, you will play with three fast bowlers and a spinner, and if you are playing in India there is the option that you can play two fast bowlers and two spinners.
"But if I see the wicket I say to myself, 'Okay, this is a flat track and I have to start scoring from the first ball and maybe I would make a mistake and get out'. At the same time, I am thinking the whole night that it is a seaming track and tomorrow morning my tactics have to be good and my feet should be moving then only I will survive.
"It is rubbish for me, I have never seen wickets. I just think I am going to face the four bowlers and in those four bowlers no one can get me out," quipped the batting genius.
'I look to score off every ball'
Sehwag pointed out that playing outrageous shots does not count as "risky shots" in his dictionary.
"I think there is a risk in every shot. Even if you defend you can get out if the balls goes on to your stumps. They say that you must not play at deliveries outside the off-stump, but if that same delivery comes back in you can get bowled, and at the same time if you play a shot also you can get out.
"So if you think about risk when going out to bat, you can never bat well. I just go out in the middle thinking that I will play my shots and I don't care whether I get out or not playing the shot because it is not a risky shot for me.
"I know I can hit easily over extra cover, so it is not a risk for me; but, maybe, for someone else that same shot is a risky shot.
Maybe, for me the defensive shot is a risky shot, because my technique is not that good and I can get out because I don't get behind the line of the ball.
"So the definition of risk is different for every batsman. If I go out to bat thinking that if I play that particular shot I will get out, it becomes a risk thinking about it. That is why I don't care about risks; I just see the ball and hit it," he added.
His mantra when he bats in the middle is quite simple. "I look to score off every ball. My thinking is that if you stay at the wicket for 30 minutes, then try to score as much as you can in those 30 minutes."