Shoaib Akhtar and Virender Sehwag have had many feisty confrontations in the past. But their off-field relations seem to be very cordial. On June 13, Shoaib Akhtar had the former Indian opener on his YouTube show as a special guest to talk about the ongoing ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup.
What may come as a surprise to many fans is Akhtar's disclosure that, despite the public perception, the two men have always been on good terms. The famous 'baap baap hota hain' statement by Sehwag and other provocative things the retired Indian opener may have said were, apparently, not as offensive as some may have thought them to be.
In this very pleasant conversation, the two players discussed a variety of issues ranging from the weather to the upcoming India-Pakistan game. On the later topic, both agreed that calling this game, as important as it is, a final before the final would be wrong. However, Viru did point out how ICC may want to promote such thinking due to the obvious financial gains that such a game can generate.
They also looked at Pakistan's bowling attack and Akhtar asked his former Indian foe what he thinks about it. Sehwag replied that Pakistan's pace bowling unit has always been strong and it is no surprise that in this tournament too, they have looked good. But the former India captain went on to make a rather astute observation. He said the problem for Pakistan is the lack of wicket-taking ability of Hasan Ali in the middle overs.
Akhtar also chipped in with a very unique statement wherein he took the credit, somewhat, for both Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz being brought back into the team after being ignored for the original 15-man squad. He attributed Amir's success to his advice of bowling a little faster. .
Interestingly, Sehwag also refused to count India as the biggest favourite among all the teams to lift the trophy. According to the man with two triple centuries in Tests, England and Australia are the two biggest favourites in the tournament and when push comes to shove, they may well be the teams which bring their A-game to the table. Sehwag believes that Australia have the instinct and skills to perform at their best in the crucial matches like the semis and finals.
Well, whatever happens in the World Cup, it was interesting to see the two men, often engaged in heated contests on the field, have this rather bromantic meeting off it.