Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag had formed one of the most lethal opening combinations in ODI cricket during their heydays. The aggressive right-handed batsmen opened the innings 93 times between 2002 and 2012, forging 12 centuries and 18 half-century stands.

One of the most memorable stands between the two batting greats came at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003, in a match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan at Centurion.

Asked to chase a steep total of 274 in one of the crucial group stage matches of the quadrennial tournament, Sehwag and Tendulkar demolished the famed Pakistan pace bowling unit to get the team off to a flyer.

Tendulkar and Sehwag went after Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar, two of the most-feared pacers, from the word go.

The tone of the chase was set early in the first over as both Tendulkar and Sehwag hit a boundary each to milk nine runs off Akram's bowling.

How Tendulkar pulled Sehwag's legs ahead of the big chase against Pakistan

Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag
File photo of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag at 2003 Cricket World Cup.Reuters

As it turns out, Sehwag, in a chat show "What the Duck" with cricket presenter Vikram Sathaye, revealed he had been fretting about facing Akram early on throughout the Pakistan innings.

The Nawab of Najafgarh revealed that he had pestered Tendulkar, the usual No. 2 batsman, to take the strike against Sehwag in the first over of their 275-run chase.

Tendulkar had kept on rejecting his requests only to suddenly walk up to the striker's end and face Akram. Even in the subsequent overs, the former had pushed Sehwag to take quick singles so that the latter can get off the strike against the pace legend.

Wasim Akram
File photo of former Pakistan fast bowler, Wasim Akram.Reuters

"The story is, we were fielding first, so entire 50 overs I was telling him, Wasim Akram will bowl the first over. And I was so bad with left-arm fast bowlers that I, in the past, had gotten out to Akram, Chaminda Vaas and Nathan Bracken in the first ball," Sehwag said during the chat show.

I was telling him [Tendulkar] the entire 50 overs, And he said 'my number is two, I will remain at two only'. After that, it was lunchtime and I was running behind him, pleading. He kept saying: 'No, my number is 2.'

"Finally I crossed the (boundary) line, I said, take the strike. He said 'no'. We reached the 30-year circle. I requested him again, he refused.

"Then suddenly he went straight to take a strike against Wasim Akram. I thought: 'Was he playing with me all the time?'

I was a little scared. The first ball [over], he took a single and the second ball, I was on strike against Akram. He then wanted to save me. So to do so, he said: 'even if the ball goes to the keeper, we run.' I thought it was better to get run out than to lose his wicket to Akram.

Memorable win for India

Sachin, who was part of the chat show, jocularly said he was trying to pull Sehwag's leg as he wanted to give it back to his batting partner, who, according to him, had owned the license to keep the mood in the dressing room light.

Even though Sehwag got out after hitting a quickfire 21 off 14 balls in the sixth over, the opening stand of 53 in just 40 balls laid a solid platform for India's chase. Tendulkar carried on to hit a match-winning 98 while Rahul Dravid (44), Yuvraj Singh (50) and Mohammed Kaif (34) made some handy contributions.

Notably, India had reached the final of World Cup 2003 only to lose to eventual champions Australia by a mammoth 125-run margin.