It has been almost over a decade since Indian cricket team visited Pakistan for a Test and One Day series. India bagged victory in both the formats during the 2004 tour and it was Virender Sehwag who emerged as the biggest nightmare for the Pakistani faction. We all remember Viru’s triple-century knock in the first Test of the series in Multan which gave him the title of ‘Sultan of Multan’. But did you know what the Indian opener was scared of? Taking first strike. Yes, that’s right! Sehwag who was never afraid to face any bowler had a superstition that he would get out if he takes the first ball of the match. And coincidentally something happened during one of the matches that strengthened his belief! Yes, really!
So, what happened exactly? Let’s go back to the third match of the 2004 Test series between India and Pakistan. Pakistan concluded their innings with 224 runs on the board and India was to bat. Former batsman and wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel was asked to open the innings along with Sehwag. Sharing the incident in an interview with Cricbuzz, Patel said, he was new to international cricket and was not comfortable in facing the first ball and hence asked Sehwag for a favour. Though Sehwag was in great form with scores of 309 and 90 in the first two Tests, he was still hesitant to face the first ball. After repeated requests from Patel, Sehwag agreed. Now imagine what happened? Yes, you are right, ace seamer Shoaib Akhtar bowled him off the very first delivery!
Patel said he could not believe his eyes and realised he was in great trouble. He even thought that this would end his cricketing career. However, he managed to score 69 and India put up a total of 600 runs on board. They won by an innings and 131 runs inside 4 days to clinch the series 2-1.
The victory gave India its first Test series win on Pakistani soil. However, even today, when Patel recalls the moment, he wonders that how a batsman of such stature could buckle under the pressure of something called superstition.