Virender Sehwag has forced many a bowlers into submission by his explosive batting but today he doffed his hat to Gautam Gambhir describing him as the best Indian opener after the legendary Sunil Gavaskar.
Gambhir (167) today slammed his fourth successive century on the opening day of the second Test against Sri Lanka and Sehwag, who himself scored a blistering 131, said his younger opening partner can score another hundred in the next match.
"He (Gambhir) is best opener India had after Gavaskar. He has hit four successive Test centuries and already has eight Test centuries in 25-30 Tests. I think with the kind of form he is in, he can slam a ton in the next Test as well," Sehwag said after India piled on 417 for two on the opening day.
"He was in good form and hitting well. So we were still scoring at over three and his boundaries took the pressure off me and I could wait before playing my shots," he said.
Sehwag was seen interacting with Gambhir after the left-hander foozled a shot against Muttiah Muralitharan in the morning session.
Asked what he told his Delhi team-mate, Sehwag said, "I told him to think big. You are good enough to score four successive centuries. Stay three hours and you will automatically get a hundred."
Sehwag said India would look to pile up 700 plus runs tomorrow and put enough pressure on Sri Lanka so that the visitors crumble.
Sehwag and Gambhir were involved in a blistering 233-run opening stand that proved the bedrock of India's stunning batting display on the opening day of the second Test and the right-hander insists his teammates cannot relax or relent yet.
"We are in a positive frame of mind. We have scored a good total for opening day and scored at a good rate (4.63) to boot. Tomorrow, we will try to get 700-800 and then put pressure on the Lankans and get those 20 wickets," he said.
Sri Lanka managed just two wickets after a hard day's toil but Sehwag believes his bowling colleagues can overcome the lack of life on the track and bowl his side to victory.
"We bowled out Australia twice in a placid Mohali track (last year) and there is no reason why we cannot do it here. I hope Zaheer (Khan), Harbhajan (Singh), (S) Sreesanth and (Pragyan) Ojha will do it for us," he said.
Sehwag's own knock was a well-paced compilation as the Delhi dasher overcame a wobbly morning hour before blooming into his aggressive self.
"With little moister in air, I knew the ball would do something and I have to be careful. They had three spinners and I fancied my chance against them. So I took time and concentrated a lot before playing my shots," he said.
"In Ahmedabad they dropped me and here too they grassed one. I told myself to play first 8-10 overs and concentrate hard. I tried to leave balls outside off-stump and it's only after first hour that I played my shots," said the explosive opener, who got a life on zero when Mahela Jayawardene dropped him off Chanaka Welegedara."
The blazing 167-run knock against Sri Lanka on Tuesday earned opener Gautam Gambhir the distinction of being only third Indian batsman after Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid to slam hundreds in four consecutive Test matches.
The left-hander, who struck his eighth career hundred with a 167-run knock today as India sailed to 417 for two on the opening day of the second Test here, had scored the first of his four successvive centuries against New Zealand in Napier, slamming 137.
He followed it up with another ton in the next match against the Kiwis, accumulating 167 runs in the March-April series.
The third back-to-back century came against the Sri Lankans in the opening Test in Ahemedabad where he notched up 114 runs.PTI