Despite friendship, Viru and Gauti competed as strangers

While the Irfan-Yusuf Pathan face-off attracted attention during the Delhi Daredevils-Kolkata Knight Riders’ game, another compelling contest between Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir went relatively unnoticed.

Viru and Gautam have been friends, colleagues, team-mates for a long time. The two climbed the cricket ladder playing for ONGC, Delhi, North Zone and the Daredevils. In international cricket, they are feared as a formidable opening pair. 

Sehwag rates Gautam as India’s best opener since Sunil Gavaskar and feels the left-hander is a future India captain. On his part, Gautam acknowledges the support he has received from Viru.

The other day at the Kotla, the two friends led their teams, in a professional manner. Both realised they had a job to do and got on with the task as if playing against unknown opponents. The confused crowd at the Kotla, not knowing whom to support, ended up cheering for both. 

Further away, seated in the super-hospitality enclosure, Mohammad Azharuddin kept a watchful eye on the cricket.

"Bowling kahaan hai," he remarked, unimpressed. "Fielding is much sharper but the wickets have slowed down and ordinary players are scoring big. I still feel Gavaskar was the best batsman I ever saw."

More than cricket, Azhar is busy meeting his political commitments. As the Member of Parliament from Moradabad, his time is taken up by development work and pushing social schemes.

This, he says, gives him satisfaction. The other thing that drives him is an unrelenting focus to remain fit. "I workout without fail," he says, flaunting the biceps. Even after all these years, Azhar remains a disciplined eater and still fits into a size 34 Hugo Boss jeans.

 

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