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Virender Sehwag Could Have Made His ODI Debut In 1998 Had It Not Been For This Reason

Dixit Bhargav

Virender Sehwag Could Have Made His ODI Debut In 1998 Had It Not Been For This Reason

Former India batter Virender Sehwag, who first played an international match in 1999, could have made a surprising ODI debut in 1998. Having earned a maiden call-up in an emergency situation, Sehwag was pretty close to leave for Sharjah before a U-turn on the part of the Indian team management made him wait for another year before first representing the country.

Had it happened, Sehwag would’ve made his ODI debut during a historic triangular series involving Australia and New Zealand at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

For those who don’t know, this series is fondly remembered for the superb manner in which Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar scored back-to-back centuries against Australia. Tendulkar’s 14th ODI century, the first of the two, had come in a losing cause in a match affected by Desert Storm. Tendulkar, however, scored his 15th ODI century on his 25th birthday to power his team to a 6-wicket victory in the final.

Virender Sehwag Could Have Made His ODI Debut In 1998 Had It Not Been For This Reason

It was during the same series that Sehwag had received a call-up after multiple Indian players were ill. Speaking to host Gaurav Kapur during the latest episode of his talk show named Breakfast With ChampionsSehwag explained how he was in the middle of completing the boarding process before being asked to return back home.

“Five-six Indian players had fallen sick during the Sharjah [Coca-Cola] Cup 1998, where Sachin Tendulkar had scored those centuries. So, I received a call that that I have to board a flight to Sharjah the next day. I got the ticket, packed my bags and went to the airport. I had just entered the airport to check-in when I received another call informing me to not travel as all the players had recovered.”

Sehwag, however, was handed an ODI debut almost a year later. It was under former India batter Ajay Jadeja’s leadership that Sehwag played as a middle-order batter against Pakistan in Mohali.

While Sehwag didn’t play another international match for 20 months, his first Player of the Match performance came in his fourth ODI against Australia in Bengaluru. Coming in to bat at No. 6, Sehwag scored 58 (54) including eight fours in a 96-ball 100-run fifth-wicket partnership alongside former India captain Rahul Dravid before picking three wickets in the second innings.

Virender Sehwag’s Father Believed He Could’ve Played For India Sooner Than 1999

Krishan Sehwag, father of Virender Sehwag, believed his son could’ve made his debut for India sooner had it not been for wasting five hours on a daily basis. Sehwag, who recited in the same episode how it used to take him two to two-and-a-half-hours to reach his school, disclosed how so much commuting time wasn’t appreciated by his father.

It was due to the same reason that Krishan had wished for Virender to build a facility for students where they could study, practice and live without having to take out separate travel time regularly.

It was to fulfill this wish of his father that Virender came up with “Sehwag International School” after being gifted a piece of land by former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for becoming the first Indian cricketer (third overall at the time) to score two triple centuries in Test cricket.

About the author

Dixit Bhargav

Dixit Bhargav


Born and brought up in Pathankot, Dixit Bhargav is an engineering and sports management graduate who works as a Cricket Editor at The SportsRush. Having written more than 10,000 articles across more than five years at TSR, his first cricketing memory dates back to 2002 when former India captain Sourav Ganguly had waved his jersey at the historic Lord’s balcony. What followed for an 8-year-old was an instant adulation for both Ganguly and the sport. The optimist in him is waiting for the day when Punjab Kings will win their maiden Indian Premier League title. When not watching cricket, he is mostly found in a cinema hall watching a Punjabi movie.

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