Dressed in a grey suit and rimless glasses, with his two sons in tow, Virender Sehwag cut the ribbons and inaugurated the Virender Sehwag Gate at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Tuesday.
Soon after, he turned emotional, taking the audience back in time. “During my U-19 days, I used to cross this gate and used say to myself, “shayad kabhi mauka aaya ki is gate pe mera naam ho, aaj wo bhi din aa gaya,” said Sehwag.
Sehwag’s “din” came more than a decade after the promise was made by the association and it was reflected on one of the plates on the gate, which referred the right-hander as “only Indian to score a triple century in Test cricket”, forgetting Karun Nair’s 303 not out against England in 2016.
The presence of his former teammates and coaches – Madan Lal, Yashpal Sharma, Atul Wassan, Gursharan Singh, Nikhil Chopra, Robin Singh Jr and Hari Gidwani among others turned him all the more emotional.
“It is indeed a special day for me. Most of my former teammates, people who picked me, people who were my manager and my old friends are here. Bahut accha lagta hai purane dosto se mil ke. Some couldn’t come as they were not in Delhi. Bishan Singh Bedi, who couldn’t come today, was my first Ranji Trophy coach and he kept motivating me during my early days. I’m sure many of these will get stands, pavillions or dressing rooms in their name,” said Sehwag.
There were repeated attempts to deflect the focus from the gate to the factual faux pas and the retirement of his good friend and former teammate, Ashish Nehra. But Sehwag, with his characteristic wit, ensured the focus remained squarely on him. To a question on Nehra’s retirement, he quipped, “Wo kal baat karege, aaj mera din hai to meri baat karte han.” it had the audience in splits.
Monument of inspiration
More than a personal honour for him, he believes the monument will be an inspiration for the next generation of cricketers. “Whoever will enter through this gate will get motivated. They would think that when Sehwag came to play and left with a gate in his name. They would think that if they play Delhi U16, U19, U23, Ranji Trophy and India, even they could get a gate of their name,” he said.
Soon after the photo-ops and media interactions, the Indian team roared past the gate. The players converged to him as they exchanged greetings.
Sehwag was especially glad to see Nehra, who he greeted with a tight hug. So did several of the support staff and players.