It was 2001. Sehwag had just started showing bit of his potential. His Sports agent met me for a possible association with Samsung. I told her to wait for 6 months. In that period I was putting together a team for Team Samsung to counter LG’s ICC partnership and 2003 World Cup. 6 months later I met him to sign the contract. One of the most non assuming celebrities I have ever met (apart from Rahul Dravid). His hand was in plaster. The smile that Jarrod Kimber talks off in his article on cricinfo, it was there. No airs about him… just a boy from Najafgarh… kind of bewildered with all the hype that was happening around him.
Over the next one year we did some shoots. He was interesting, cheeky and funny during the shoots. Again a year later I met him. I was there for a shoot with Atul Kasbekar. Sehwag was there too along with Sachin Tendulkar for adidas shoot. Sehwag by then was rocking the world with his imperious cover drives and square cuts. He was a star. And yet, the moment he saw me, he came and hugged… introduced me to Sachin, who I must say didn’t even bother to smile.
That was the last we met. But over the years I obviously enjoyed his cricket like everyone else… cursed him for getting out like everyone else. But through it all, we all knew that he was a special talent. He, more than anyone else got the aggression into the Indian team. Aggression is not about tantrums or a an expression on your face. Aggression is the bowler wondering from the very first ball of a test match innings as to what will happen. He did that to them. Every bowler knew he had a chance against Sehwag. The only question was if the chance will come soon or 200 runs later.
And cricket statisticians might want to correct me but from whatever cricket I have watched (and I have watched a lot), his innings always was constructed with boundaries (fours). One would imagine that for a strike rate of 80 in test cricket, he would also be hitting lot of sixers but his batting was about fours and cheeky singles.
He did revolutionise the way India played cricket and some of his knocks will always be part of Indian cricket folklore. Hats off to you Veeru. You did us proud.