To be a middle-order batsman all his life and then make that jump at the highest level as an opener speaks volumes of his talent and mental strength.
He was selected as a middle-order batsman in the era of the Dravids, Tendulkars, Gangulys and Laxmans, so giving him an opportunity in the Test squad was becoming difficult.
He got a hundred on debut in South Africa at number 6, and I have always looked up to players scoring runs in overseas conditions.
It requires a special ability and belief to do such a thing, and I knew from Day One that this player is special.
I still remember the hundred in Sri Lanka in 2001 before the South Africa tour, where as an opener, he won us the game and took us to the final. He not only won it for us but also gave us the run-rate required to qualify.
He is a match winner and that's why such cricketers are special.
He has, in a way, changed the thought process of opening batsman around the world. Opening batsmen are taught to leave deliveries around the off stump, but here is one player who looks at it as a scoring opportunity.
He has made players and cricket pundits believe that runs can be scored that way. To me, he is an all-time great.
360 corporate relations The writer is a former captain