One Pakistan batter captivated Virender Sehwag’s imagination like no other, so much so that he hailed him as Asia’s best middle-order batter, over Rahul Dravid.
It’s rare to see Virender Sehwag talk as highly or passionately about anyone else as Sachin Tendulkar. The former India batter, who, along with Tendulkar, formed one of the most destructive opening pairs in ODIs, has always kept Sachin on a pedestal next to none… and for several reasons. Like many, Sehwag, who too grew up idolising Tendulkar, not only ended up being teammates with him, but became one of Sachin’s closest friends. Even today, whenever Tendulkar and Sehwag come together in the same frame – in ICC World Cups, or Legends League Cricket, it is blockbuster.
Sehwag and Tendulkar have been part of some of Indian cricket’s fiercest rivalries against, more so against Australia and Pakistan. In fact, when Sehwag scored his famous triple-century against Pakistan, Tendulkar was at the non-striker end as his partner. India’s 2004 tour of Pakistan ended up being a huge turning point in Sehwag’s career as not only did he play with one of the greatest Indian teams but also against a solid opposition unit. From that Pakistan line-up, one batter captivated Sehwag’s imagination like no other, so much so that he hailed him as Asia’s best middle-order batter.
“Everyone talks about Sachin Tendulkar but Inzamam-Ul-Haq is Asia’s biggest middle-order batsman. See Tendulkar was above the league of batsmen. So he doesn’t count. But when it comes to the most superior-middle order batsman across India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, I have never seen anyone better than him (Inzi),” Sehwag told renowned anchor and host Gaurav Kapur on his famous show ‘Breakfast with Champions’ produced by Oaktree Sports.
That Sehwag lauded Inzamam over the likes of his own teammates Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sri Lanka greats Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene says something. By then Inzamam was a veteran – he had made his debut in 1992 – whereas the others had burst onto the scene four years later (Sangakkara even later). But under Inzamam, the Pakistan team, from 2003 to 2007 was a pretty formidable unit. In fact, his win percentage of 58 is next only to Wasim Akram. However, it was his batting and the fact that he was ahead of his time till the very end of his career that Sehwag is a huge admirer of.
“In that era – 2003-04 – he used to talk about scoring 8 an over. He would tell his partner, ‘Don’t worry. You’ll score easily’. Means 80 runs in 10 overs. Other teams would panic but he was always too confident,” he added.